Illinois governor says Tollway not for sale

| Thursday, August 31, 2006

Privatization of interstates has been a campaign issue in Illinois, where a challenger to Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the November election challenged him to take a stance.

Blagojevich, attending the launch Tuesday of open-road tolling in South Beloit , IL, said he is against the lease or sale of the 274-mile Illinois Tollway system to private investors.

“One of the problems with privatizing the tollway is the private companies whose motivation is to raise profits,” Blagojevich told the Rockford Register Star.

Blagojevich and the state legislature approved a study to see if a privatization bill could attract billions in private-investment dollars. The governor explained his rationale for authorizing the study.

“I was never for privatization,” he said. “I said we’d take a look at it. We’ve taken a look at it and I’ve been very clear that we’re not going to sell the tollway.”

Judy Baar Topinka, a Republican facing the Democrat Blagojevich in the Nov. 7 election, is also against privatization. Earlier in the campaign, she challenged the governor to declare his opposition to a private lease or sale of interstates.

Of course, the 8-mile Chicago Skyway was leased for $1.83 billion to a foreign private investment consortium, Cintra-Macquarie, in 2005.

Earlier this summer in Indiana, the legislature and Gov. Mitch Daniels leased the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road for $3.85 billion to the same consortium.

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