Pennsylvania official touts privatization of roads

| 3/10/2006

A Pennsylvania state representative believes the idea of road privatization might be one way to improve the state’s highway system and reduce taxpayer maintenance costs.

Rep. Richard Geist, R-Blair, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, told “Land Line Now” that public-private partnerships for roads have worked in Europe and are becoming increasingly popular among lawmakers in the U.S.

Pennsylvania, like most states, is cash-strapped for highway dollars.

“Right now we do $1.6 billion a year in new construction,” Geist said. “The interstate restoration program on the capacity problem alone is about $6 billion a year for five years. That will give you an idea how much the needs really are there, just on the commerce side, so we have to take a very serious look at funding over the next 20 years in Pennsylvania.”

Public-private partnerships, such as the one being considered by lawmakers for the Indiana Toll Road, might involve PennDOT signing over the operation and maintenance of toll roads to private entities, or inking agreements for new roads.

– By Land Line staff