Macquarie, Cintra eyeball Pennsylvania Turnpike

| 10/1/2007

If Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell follows through on his threat to sell the Pennsylvania Turnpike to private investors, there’s a strong possibility Australian toll operator Macquarie will be among the bidders.

Macquarie investor relations spokesman Stewart Green spoke at a Merrill Lynch Australian Investment conference in New York and said that the bank and toll giant was in the mix, according to media reports.

Rendell set a deadline of Oct. 1 to receive credentials from possible bidders. It’s still too early in the process for actual bids.

Highway users have seen Macquarie join with Spanish partner Cintra to sink billions into leasing the Indiana Toll Road and Chicago Skyway.

Reuters and several Australian publications are reporting that Cintra is also among those interested in leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Reuters has even speculated that there could be another Cintra-Macquarie partnership putting together a possible bid.

Rendell has said he believes that leasing or selling the turnpike for several decades would bring in enough revenue to pay for a number of transportation projects throughout the state.

Rendell and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission have also proposed tolling Interstate 80, the state’s other east-west mainline, as a revenue generator.

Critics of the tolling proposal and those against the privatization of the turnpike, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, believe the state has been squandering revenue streams to pay for mass transit and pork-barrel projects.

– By David Tanner, staff writer