Legislation filed to lease Pennsylvania Turnpike

| Monday, June 09, 2008

Two state lawmakers in Pennsylvania have filed legislation that would enable Gov. Ed Rendell to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike to private investors for 75 years.

State Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, and Rep. Steven Cappelli, R-Lycoming, introduced HB2593 on Thursday, June 5, in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Lawmakers then assigned the bill to the Pennsylvania House Committee on Transportation.

Rendell has sought to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike as a way to generate revenue for highways, bridges and mass transit. He announced in May that a consortium of Abertis Infraestructuras of Spain and a subsidiary of New York-based Citibank bid $12.8 billion for the right to lease the turnpike.

The current legislative session is scheduled to end when budget negotiations are complete, tentatively on June 30 according to a member of the state House staff. Those budget talks could push a vote on a turnpike lease to September at the earliest, several news media in Pennsylvania are reporting.

Rendell’s proposed lease would be similar but not identical to the 2006 lease of the Indiana Toll Road by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to a private investment group from Spain and Australia.

One difference would be that Rendell would not allow a “non-compete” clause into the lease that would prevent the state from fixing or building so-called “free” routes within proximity to the tolled highway.

Click here to read the text of HB2593 as filed.

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