Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta continued to push for
more privatization of U.S. infrastructure, including highways, during a visit
to the NASDAQ market in New York City.
During that visit on Tuesday, May 23, Mineta said traffic
jams waste 2.3 billion gallons of fuel and 3.7 billion hours each year, and
cost the economy $9.7 billion each year.
The speech was part of a campaign called the National
Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America’s Transportation Network.
Mineta called upon financial, construction and engineering
firms to invest in the privatization of highways, airports and transit as a way
to reduce congestion.
Privatization on the ground could include toll roads,
truck-only toll lanes, high-occupancy vehicle lanes, bypasses and alternate
“Private capital will give those communities willing to
embrace it an opportunity to augment public funds in order to complete critical
transit and highway projects,” Mineta stated on the U.S. Department of
Transportation’s Web site, www.dot.gov.
“Congestion doesn’t have to be a fact of life. We are not
going to let transportation be the chokepoint of our economic activities.”
Mineta’s speech Tuesday at NASDAQ was just one of the many
recent talks of privatization around the country.
A few states away in Indiana, a lawsuit challenging the
private lease the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road could set important precedents as
states clamor to unload infrastructure to the highest bidders.
Cintra-Macquarie from Spain and Australia has offered Indiana $3.85 billion in cash for the right to collect tolls and operate the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years.
A judge could be ruling on a court challenge of the deal any
day now. That challenge, launched by residents and activists, is being funded
chiefly by truckers and includes backing from OOIDA.
– By David Tanner, staff writer