Tthe Commonwealth Foundation and the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation released a policy brief entitled Leasing the Turnpike: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers to help enhance and enlighten the current transportation policy debate.
The policy brief asks and answers twenty-one of the most common questions related to Pennsylvania’s transportation funding needs and cost, current and proposed solutions, and the benefits of a Turnpike lease.
The twenty-one questions and answers in the policy brief include:
- Does Pennsylvania need more money for its roads, highways, bridges and mass transit systems?
- Didn’t Act 44 of 2007—which will impose new tolls on the currently free Interstate-80—solve our transportation funding problem?
- What if the Federal Highway Administration rejects Pennsylvania’s application to toll I-80?
- What are the options available to policymakers for raising additional revenue for transportation projects?
- What is a Public-Private Partnership?
- What are the potential benefits of a Public-Private Partnership on the Turnpike?
- Aren’t Public-Private Partnerships, particularly leases of existing assets, new and unproven?
- Isn’t a 75-year lease to a private interest equivalent to the selling of a public asset? Isn’t 75 years far too long to lease a valuable road? The Commonwealth would be committing future generations when we cannot predict what the needs will be.
- Where does the value of the Turnpike come from?
- Isn’t public financing cheaper than private financing, thereby lowering the costs to taxpayers and toll-payers?
- Isn’t the Turnpike an efficiently run toll road?
- Wouldn’t a lease of Pennsylvania Turnpike just be a short-term fix with long-term problems?
- Why should the users of the Turnpike pay for the transportation costs of the rest of the state? Why not spread that burden to the users of I-80?
- Won’t the Governor and General Assembly misspend the billions of dollars from a lease deal?
- What if the private company breaches the contract or goes out of business?
- Won’t tolls skyrocket under a privately managed Turnpike?
- Won’t a private operator neglect the maintenance of the Turnpike to maximize profits?
- Won’t higher Turnpike tolls divert traffic to parallel roads?
- Isn’t it both a national security risk and bad economic policy to allow a foreign company to operate the Turnpike and send its profits elsewhere?
- Wouldn’t a Turnpike lease agreement include a “non-compete clause” giving the winning bidder protection from competition?
- Will Turnpike employees lose their jobs or see their wages and benefits cut?
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The Commonwealth Foundation (www.CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.