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Opinion: Beware Toll Road Privatization

Author, WSJ columnist and Huffington Post blogger Thomas Frank cautions against the public-private partnerships that are leasing public toll roads, warning that it isn't in the public interest; that they will become affordable only to the wealthy.
February 4, 2009, 9am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"During the Bush years, promoting these public-private partnerships (in transportation) became one of the great causes of the U.S. Department of Transportation. It was nothing less than a "revolution," Transportation Secretary Mary Peters exclaimed last June on her blog the Fast Lane. It was a "quiet revolution," she wrote, on which the administration planned to "turn up the volume."

"But there's good reason to be reluctant to privatize. It doesn't take an MBA to figure out that we didn't build our Interstate highways in order to create opportunities for venture capitalists. The purpose was public service.

Transferring them to the private sector, at the very least, complicates this mission. At worst it will effectively close those roads to the part of the population that can't afford the revolutionary tolls that private ownership will surely bring. The cost of, well, just about everything will start to rise as more pieces of the transportation system embrace their for-profit destiny and start charging whatever the desperate commuter will bear.

Wear and tear on the remaining public-sector roads will certainly increase as traffic is driven off the tollways."

Thanks to John Hartz

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Published on Saturday, January 31, 2009 in The Huffington Post
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