View Full Version : Privatizing US Highways

June 30th, 2005, 10:36 AM
Is the following a good idea for the USA?

It seems that US legislators have come up with a plan to allow the privatization of US Highways as a way to finance road projects:


US Congress seen Paving Way for Private Toll Roads
Thursday June 30, 2005 9:33 AM ET
By Daniel Sorid

SAN FRANCISCO, June 30 (Reuters) - The next road you travel -- and pay a toll to use -- could be privately owned.

Looking for ways to finance highway projects without hitting the public trough, the U.S. Congress appears set to pass a proposal to encourage private ownership of new toll roads.

The provision, part of the highway spending bill now being hammered out by a Senate and House conference committee, would allow private companies to raise up to $15 billion for highway projects with bonds that are exempt from federal income taxes. While the proposal has broad support in Washington and the business community, the idea of private highways has incited grassroots opposition in some states, with some saying the government -- not a profit-seeking company -- is the proper owner of the public's roads...

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

June 30th, 2005, 10:47 AM
A consequence of this could be a hierarchy of highway usage. A toll of X-dollars gets you on the highway. A toll of 2X-dollars gets you on special lanes.

June 30th, 2005, 10:52 AM
We have enough highways, let them build rail lines.

June 30th, 2005, 11:11 AM
Traffic Report:

Tractor Trailer stuck on the Nynex Parkway at exit 16 is causing delays past the PNC Bank art Center.

2 car fire on the Hershey Expressway causing a 15 min delay just past the Contenental Airlines Arena, people are advised to take the Pep Boys Zoom-Express-Corridor.

Construction crews are still working on the Disney crossover and are advised to take the Pixar Service road instead.

And that's your traffic for the NYC area, we'll be back in 15 for further updates.

June 30th, 2005, 11:33 AM
Asinine. It has been demonstrated that the profit padding privitization requires detracts from services provided, and that some things indeed should be left to government agencies... inefficiency hype and all. Just look at the london tube or Halliburton for easy targets of privatization gone wrong...

July 2nd, 2005, 08:53 PM
There are also numerous example of privite highways that work... paticularly in the state of california

July 4th, 2005, 01:10 PM
This coming from the same group of people who want to privatize Social Security. Let's see, energy was deregulated in CA and other states, and that led to rolling blackouts and higher electric bills. The phone companies were deregulated and that led to monopoly and corporate control over the mainstream media. This zeal towards privatization and deregulation over the last 20 years or so has brought more problems than benefits.

July 10th, 2005, 10:35 AM
Privatized highways are fine, so long as the true market value of the right of way is paid for, and the owner companies retain the right to set their own speed limits. People are willing to pay for time saved.

July 10th, 2005, 11:03 AM
There are also numerous example of privite highways that work... paticularly in the state of california

Ok, so what are they?

September 22nd, 2006, 09:56 PM
Developer Wants Toll Road; Colorado Makes It Difficult

Carmel Zucker for The New York Times
Phyllis Orr, smelling alfalfa recently, and her husband, Tommy,
oppose a toll road through Weld County.

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/22/us/22toll.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin)
September 22, 2006

FORT COLLINS, Colo., Sept. 21 — After Robert Thomasson and his wife found out in the early 1990’s that the house they had built near the Denver suburb of Aurora lay in the path of a proposed public toll road, they moved to a 60-acre ranch in pastoral Elbert County, about 60 miles southeast of the city.

“We ended up fighting it but were unable to prevail, so we decided to move out here to Elbert County, where it would never happen again,” Mr. Thomasson said.

In 2002, Mr. Thomasson, a retired teacher, learned that his new home sat in the path of another toll road, one proposed by a private developer. “My wife and I spent two years building our home here,’’ he said. “We were devastated.”

The private toll road has become the object of a bitter struggle between Ray Wells, the Denver developer proposing it, and the owners of thousands of houses, ranches and farms in its path.

Mr. Wells, who has built hundreds of miles of roads in the state, has said the toll road, which he has been planning off and on since the 1980’s, will be a speedy alternative to busy Interstate 25 through Denver. It would run north and south across the plains and hills about 25 miles to the east, stretching for 210 miles through seven counties from Fort Collins to Pueblo. It would include a freight railroad line and a utility corridor to carry electricity and natural gas.

Mr. Wells estimates that the project, which he calls the Prairie Falcon Parkway Express (http://www.prairiefalconparkwayexpress.com/) but which has long been nicknamed the Super Slab, will cost about $2.5 billion, a spokesman said. Mr. Wells has said he intends to raise the money from investors.

The developer’s original plan relied on an 1891 Colorado mining law that allowed private developers to condemn private property needed for a road.

After Mr. Wells strongly lobbied the Colorado legislature last year to pass a bill making it even easier for him to build the toll road, Mr. Thomasson helped rally about 1,200 property owners to march on the Capitol in Denver, carrying signs and shouting slogans opposing the project. The landowners successfully fought to defeat of the measure.

Opponents of the road then achieved passage of two bills to restrict greatly the construction of private toll roads. Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, vetoed both bills last year, but he signed similarly worded ones into law this summer after they passed again.

The new laws removed the right of private toll road developers to condemn private property and require them to negotiate a more complex and expensive bureaucratic process.

“It was hard for me to understand how the governor could support private toll road companies asserting condemnation powers when the law that they were claiming gave them the power was put on the books before the automobile was even invented,” said State Senator Tom J. Wiens, a Republican who sponsored one bill.

Kevin Moloney for The New York Times
Ray Wells, a Denver developer, with maps of his
proposed Prairie Falcon Parkway Express in Colorado.

Mr. Wells’s spokesman, Jason Hopfer, said the toll project would reduce traffic on Interstate 25 and provide an alternate route for railroad freight cars that now pass through Denver.

“The route addresses the need for infrastructure in Colorado that is sorely lacking,” said Mr. Hopfer, who also said Mr. Wells declined to be interviewed for this article. “If you just drive I-25, you see the need for an alternative route. A great deal of the population of Colorado lives along the corridor, and there’s no other north-south alternative.”

Critics said the road was not needed.


The proposed toll road.

Marsha Looper, an opponent and a Republican who is running for a seat in the state House, said: “We have the Ports to Plains Hiway (http://www.portstoplains.com/focus.htm) that is in direct competition with this proposed road. It’s a toll-free federal highway that our taxes are paying for that is only 40 miles to the east of the Super Slab.”

The Ports-to-Plains Hiway, which will run 40 miles to the east of Wells'
proposed private Prairie Falcon Parkway Express

After the new legislation passed this summer, many around the state thought the toll road project was dead. To build it, Mr. Wells must now either buy all the property needed for its construction or buy much of it and form a public-private partnership with the state, which could condemn the rest. Either would be difficult and very expensive.

Undaunted by the new restrictions, however, the developer filed papers with the state in August to proceed with the toll road under the current law, and hired the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root to work on it. Under his new plan, the road would be built on a 1,200-foot-wide path inside a designated three-mile-wide corridor.

“We think the new legislation gives a framework that was missing in the past, that will make it clearer as to what the next steps are,” Mr. Hopfer said. “This gives more structure to the process.”

Worried property owners in the corridor said they had no intention of selling. Tommy and Phyllis Orr raise corn and alfalfa on 60 acres in Weld County. “We moved here in 1964,” Ms. Orr said. “The road might cut our farm right in two, or it just might take out the whole thing. I don’t want to be forced off of our property. We’re too old to relocate and start our lives over.”

Some opponents said Mr. Wells hired Kellogg, Brown & Root to intimidate property owners, and because of the company’s political influence. Its parent company’s ties to the White House and other political connections are well known.

“I think he needed that power and influence,” Ms. Looper said. “The intimidation factor is extremely big.”

To which Mr. Hopfer responded, “That’s just conspiracy theories.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

September 25th, 2006, 01:17 PM
Stupid crap.

If it was a railroad, I would support it more, but simply a long toll road to ease traffic? It would only ease it until more people drove it, which is inevitable in these situations.