Hit the Road, Jack—or You Can Lease It

Critics balk as states privatize highways to raise capital
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2007 11:15 AM CDT
More and more states and municipalities are looking to privatize highways in a move to make some quick cash.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Cruising the Goldman Sachs Turnpike might not be as futuristic as it seems, Time reports, as more states lease highways to private companies to raise quick cash for infrastructure needs. And backlash didn't stop Indiana from grabbing $3.8 billion for a 75-year lease on the Indiana Toll Road. States and localities are considering 71 such projects, worth $104 billion.

Enter the backlash. Some assert private companies will raise tolls, which governments are generally loath to do themselves. Top congressmen have also warned the nation’s governors about furnishing “private interests”—and threatened to block deals against the public interest. But the trend continues, and privately-built infrastructure often favors the public, shifting risk off the government.