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Op-Ed: Legislature Blew It By Not Leasing PA Turnpike

In this op-ed, the former Secretary of the PA D.O.T. bemoans the lost opportunity to lease the PA turnpike to receive $12.8 billion from a private investor group, placing the blame squarely on the state legislature and the Turnpike Commission.
November 13, 2008, 12pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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"Howard Yerusalim , the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation under Gov. Robert P. Casey, asserts that legislators have 'failed to seize on an historic opportunity to immediately address our state's transportation infrastructure crisis.' And, believe me, it is a crisis.

Faced with a $1.7 billion transportation funding shortfall, Gov. Ed Rendell came up with a creative solution: leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a private investor group for an upfront payment of $12.8 billion, and a total package worth nearly $22 billion".

Furthermore, he believes that those legislators who opposed the leasing option offered 'false solutions - like the doomed bid to toll I-80 - to mask their desperate ploy to preserve a bastion of bureaucratic corruption and patronage, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.'

'The failure of the Legislature to act on this extraordinary opportunity - the largest private investment of its kind has led the bidders, a consortium led by Abertis and Citigroup, to withdraw their offer. The fiscal consequences for Pennsylvania will be severe to be sure.

And so what are we left with? The Turnpike Commission has raided the coffers and avoided any business realities in the last two years, doing anything they could to save themselves.'

'It's time the legislature demands a full audit of the books at the turnpike.'"

Thanks to Marilyn Skolnick

Full Story:
Published on Monday, November 3, 2008 in Northeast PA Business Journal
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