Does the public control the Turnpike? comments on the Wall Street Journal frontpage article on the PA Turnpike lease. But it’s the last couple of paragraphs that smash yet another Turnpike Commission myth — that the Turnpike is controlled by the public. It is a myth that is currently being spread across PA in a massive media buy of radio ads by the Turnpike Commission with your toll dollars.

The report has the usual Columbia School baby-journalism of finding a very ordinary person to say something so ordinary you wonder why it’s considered worth reporting – in this case a self-employed lady who made the observation that “they are always doing work on it” and that “there are a lot of accidents.”


More serious is the reporter’s tendentious line: “the deal is sparking debate about whether America’s highways are too much a part of the national fabric to be controlled by anyone but the public.”

In what sense does “the public” control the Pennsylvania Turnpike? It is controlled by the board of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and the public has about as much control over them as it has over the weather.

Indeed. And that is worth repeating: “the public has about as much control over them as it has over the weather.”