Thursday, February 02, 2006

Privatization in Indiana

In the print edition of today's Detroit Free Press the Associated Press has an article "Hoosier highway may go private" that looks promising. Any government social service that gets privatized is something I support.

The 157 mile Indiana toll road goes from the Ohio border across Indiana to the Illinois border, almost into Chicago. The state wants to dump it because it has lost money for the last three years adding up to 34.9 million dollars. This was said to be because "...the state has not mustered the political will to raise the tolls in more than 20 years."

The article states: "By this fall, about 30 of the 5,244 miles of U.S. toll roads will be run by private operators--the Chicago Skyway, the Dulles Greenway in northern Virginia and the South Bay Expressway, expected to open this fall near San Diego, said Patrick Jones, excutive director of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association."

That's not much privatization and I think that may be why Indiana is selling it to foreign companies. According to the article:
"Under the proposed agreement, Cintra of Madrid, Spain, and Macquaire Infrastructure of Sydney Australia, would invest about $700 million in the tollway over nine years."

This money would pay for maintenence and installation of toll collecting equipment and for the State Police to patrol the highway. If these companies can make a profit, perhaps American companies will notice. They should be able to make money when you consider that 55 milion people paid to use that highway last year and the top toll rate (for those who drove the entire length) was $4.65. The state is planning to raise that to $8.00 this spring according to the article.

Though it's a small step, I think it's a very good one.
The Detroit Free Press article can be found here.
For more info on private toll roads go here
The IBTTA site is here.
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