New Jersey group cautions against rapid adoption of privatization

| 1/24/2007

While New Jersey politicians are considering the possible lease of the state's turnpike, a regional planning group in the state has come out with a report urging a "go slow" approach.

Alexis Perrotta, a spokeswoman for the Regional Plan Association and author of the report, told "Land Line Now" on XM Satellite Radio that while public-private ventures can offer benefits, they can also present risks.

In particular, Perrotta cautioned that rules regarding future toll increases that are written into leases aren't necessarily realistic. She cited the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road leases.

"For example, in the case of Chicago and Indiana, the tolls there on the privatized highways will go up by a given percent, or the rate of inflation, or the rate of the increase in the per-capita nominal-growth domestic product," she said. "While that might sound very reasonable, the fact is that those things might go up while people's incomes aren't going up."

The planning association's report also recommends full legislative review of any planned highway privatization, and a series of town hall-style meetings to gather citizen input.

- By Reed Black, staff writer