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Virginia Shows How Not to Do Public-Private Partnerships

A public-private partnership to build a tunnel connecting Norfolk with the city of Portsmouth under the Elizabeth River in Virginia has gone awry, saddling the public with increasing costs and, likely, more expenses in the future.
November 6, 2015, 12pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"The private proposal to build a new underwater tunnel in [the] congested port city [of Norfolk] was originally billed as a way for Virginia to get a crucial piece of infrastructure without having to put in a single dollar of state money," according to an article by Michael Laris.

"Instead, Virginia officials have agreed to spend slightly more than $580 million on the project, more than twice the investment from the companies behind the deal."

The article cites the Midtown Tunnel project, as it's known, as the latest example of public-private partnerships that failed to deliver on their promise of delivering cheap and efficient transportation investment. For example, according to Laris: "An Indiana toll road went bankrupt last year after falling short of traffic projections; in Chicago, a 75-year deal privatizing parking meters has been denounced by critics as an unnecessary giveaway."

Laris goes on to describe just how the public cost burden spun so far from its original promise, which representative from one of the companies on the private side of the equation comes from the state's unwillingness to charge the money necessary in tolling.

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Published on Friday, November 6, 2015 in The Washington Post
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