Critics say FHWA report on road privatization is one-sided

| 7/23/2008

Critics to long-term leasing or selling of infrastructure, including OOIDA, came out swinging at a new FHWA report that paints a rosy picture of public-private partnerships.

The Federal Highway Administration released the report Tuesday, July 22, which was titled “Innovative Wave: An Update on the Burgeoning Private Sector Role in U.S. Highway and Transit Infrastructure.”

In a press release, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters spoke highly of the report, which touts the benefits of private-sector leases of toll roads in Indiana, Illinois, Virginia and Colorado.

Critics who oppose the long-term leasing of public infrastructure to private businesses say the report is one-sided.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said such a report from the current administration is no surprise.

“This report comes from an administration that does not give any priority or consideration to fiscal responsibility,” Spencer said. “The same cheerleaders for this are the same ones who said FEMA was doing a heck of a job.”

The report states that there are about 20 public-private road projects in the United States in various stages of development.

Public-private deals already on the books include the Indiana Toll Road, the Chicago Skyway and the Pocahontas Parkway in Virginia. All three of those toll roads have been leased long-term to foreign-based firms.

Spencer said the governments of those states have a “pawnshop mentality” to accept cash in exchange for control of a public asset.

Click here to read FHWA’s report.

– By David Tanner, staff writer