The application to the feds says that the Pennsylvania DOT will lease I-80 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission for 50 years. It is a kind of long term lease and toll concession, but to a public toll entity, and granted without the competitive bids that accompany a private concession. The EOI says the details of the lease are being developed ebtween PTC and PennDOT, though the general outlines are set out in Act 44 which became law last month.
Also read Toll Roads News Commentary on “Why privatization failed in Pennsylvania” (though the mock the Quinnipiac poll report for claiming that “Support for lease of Turnpike collapses“)
The heart of the case for privatization is that a tollroad is a quintessential business. It involves assessing whether there’s a market for a service, mobilizing capital, getting needed facilities built efficiently, marketing the service, and persuading customers it provides them with benefits greater than the price needed to cover costs and gain a return on investment.
The case for any kind of privatization of a tollroad – call it PPP, a lease, a concession, a franchise, private ownership, whatever – is simply that governments do business poorly, and that it is standard practice to leave business to competitive investor owned groups. Tollroads like other businesses are risky investments. Risk is best handled by investors not politicians.