States Consider Leasing Roads as Upkeep Takes Toll

$12.8B deal could make Penn. Turnpike largest such public-private partnership
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2008 2:15 PM CDT
Allowing private entities to operate public transit works can increase efficiency and oversight can be difficult to win approval for, as it robs politicians of one of the last bastions of patronage.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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(Newser) – With Pennsylvania legislators set to vote next month on a $12.8 billion deal that would put the 537-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike under private operation, such public-private partnerships are accelerating across the US, the Wall Street Journal reports. Often bankrolled by infrastructure funds—which have $160 billion under management—the projects provide relief to states hamstrung by ballooning budget deficits.

Crumbling infrastructure nationwide needs about $1.6 trillion over several years. Pennsylvania alone needs $11 billion for deficient bridges and is looking to Indiana’s model, in which a $3.8 billion, 75-year lease of its toll road has shored up state finances and improved its credit rating. But critics argue that tolls will rise, jobs will be lost, and money will flow to overseas investors.