Turnpike proposes new funding plan

The Turnpike Commission modified their plan for new funding for roads – eliminating the “congestion tax”, but still proposing:
– New Bonds tied to the gas tax
– Turnpike Commission control and tolling of I-80
– The Turnpike Commission would “lease” the Turnpike from the state, raising tolls and paying an annual lease fee.

I like this plan – but only as one proposal among many in a competitive bidding process. Lawmakers should allow for competitive bidding on a Turnpike lease (and I-80) with private contractors, allowing them to compare those bids with the Turnpike Commission’s proposal. Private bidders, and the Turnpike Commission, would explain what their expected toll increases would be (or how much they would bid given legislative constraints on tolls) and what kinds of infrastructure investments they would provide. Legislators should not simply accept the Turnpike Commission’s proposal to keep their fiefdom and patronage jobs without taking competitive bids.