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savafan
06-30-2005, 12:57 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/bizhighways_dc;_ylt=AtwPlKdRVjdiq77c2NmYtNMDW7oF;_ ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl



By Daniel Sorid 1 hour, 36 minutes ago

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The next road you travel -- and pay a toll to use -- could be privately owned.

Looking for ways to finance highway projects without hitting the public trough, the U.S. Congress appears set to pass a proposal to encourage private ownership of new toll roads.

The provision, part of the highway spending bill now being hammered out by a Senate and House conference committee, would allow private companies to raise up to $15 billion for highway projects with bonds that are exempt from federal income taxes.

While the proposal has broad support in Washington and the business community, the idea of private highways has incited grassroots opposition in some states, with some saying the government -- not a profit-seeking company -- is the proper owner of the public's roads.

Toll road owners such as Spain's Cintra and Australia's Macquarie Infrastructure Group stand to benefit from the move to private infrastructure bonds, since their tax-exempt status would keep interest rates and funding costs low.

The move would also bring lucrative fees to Wall Street banks and others for underwriting and trading tax-exempt debt.

"The time has come for this," Sen. Jim Talent (news, bio, voting record), a Missouri Republican who co-sponsored the proposal, said in a telephone interview. "I think we have an excellent chance of the $15 billion bond issue coming out of conference."

MAJOR SHIFT

While highway spending has traditionally been the government's responsibility, many states faced with tight budgets have given corporations the right to build, operate and maintain roads.

States have the right to regulate toll rates or limit profits, but generally give operators wide latitude to run the roads as they see fit, which concerns some commuters.

Texas, California and Virginia are among the states at the forefront of the movement, one of the most significant changes to the interstate highway network since its inception in the 1950s.

Companies already own projects such as the Chicago Skyway Bridge and the 407 Express that rings Toronto, and interest in privatizing more of the U.S. highway infrastructure is increasing. One bottleneck, however, has been financing.

Jose Lopez De Fuentes, director of Cintra's U.S. and Latin American operation, said private road builders currently face complex regulations governing the issuance of tax-exempt bonds.

The provision expected to emerge from Congress would help Cintra raise funds to finance such projects as a proposed $7 billion investment in the Texas highway system, he said.

Cintra's proposal, which includes a new link on the congested Dallas-San Antonio route, has triggered some opposition, but the state transportation department is ecstatic.

"That's a pretty good deal any way you slice it," said Gaby Garcia, a spokeswoman with the Texas department. "They'll cover the table with $7 billion and say, 'We'll raise that money on our own without any help from you."'

TAPPING THE TAX ROLLS

But Ellen Danning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who has written on privatization, said private companies are not necessarily more efficient at running roads, and their tolls amount to a regressive tax on highway building.

A better solution to public underfunding of the road system may be to roll back tax cuts that are squeezing the federal budget, Danning said.

"One of the things to ask yourself is, why doesn't the government have the money to spend on the infrastructure that we need?" she said.

And while the private-activity bonds will not require any outlay of public funds, the government would pay for the plan in the form of reduced tax rolls, estimated at $500 million over six years.

In a highway bill that would cost $275 billion or more in that time, $500 million is a small price to pay for a novel financing mechanism that could pay for dozens of projects, said Katherine Hedlund, an Arlington, Virginia-based partner at Nossaman, Guthner, Knox & Elliott LLP, which advises state governments on transportation issues.

"Federal funding through gas taxes and state and local taxes are no longer sufficient to maintain our highway assets and to build the additional assets we need to get ourselves out of congestion," Hedlund said.

Private road builders and public-private partnerships can pay out less interest on tax-exempt bonds, reducing the financing costs of projects by 20 percent, she said.

Ed Mortimer, director of transportation infrastructure at the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said an additional $15 billion in financing could fund 20 or 30 highway projects.

The proposal could provide a special boost to projects to expand connections between ports or industrial sites and the highways. Such roads are less popular -- but no less important -- than routes used by commuters.

"Sometimes," Mortimer said, "those projects are the hardest ones to get funded."

registerthis
06-30-2005, 01:00 PM
I have no problems with this at all. Perhaps when a private organization has a profit/loss statement to concern themselves with, they'll be more inclined to perform maintenance and upkeep on the road.

Johnny Footstool
06-30-2005, 01:17 PM
I don't like it. There is a danger that backwater states like Missouri will forego any maintenance to their own highways (they pretty much do that now). State highways will become even more riddled with potholes. Eventually, private roads will be the only driveable thoroughfares, and the corporations that own them will basically have a monopoly on road travel.

registerthis
06-30-2005, 01:23 PM
I don't like it. There is a danger that backwater states like Missouri will forego any maintenance to their own highways (they pretty much do that now). State highways will become even more riddled with potholes. Eventually, private roads will be the only driveable thoroughfares, and the corporations that own them will basically have a monopoly on road travel.
I-44 between St. Louis and Springfield was always a particular favorite of mine.

I think you have a legitimate concern, but the implementation of private toll roads doesn't mean that public highway maintenance would stop being funded, in much the same way that the existence of private schools hasn't meant the end of public schools--many of whom are churning out very qualified students.

ochre
06-30-2005, 01:23 PM
How about providing incentives for developing viable mass transit, or alternate fuel vehicles instead? More roads for more cars doesn't necessarily seem like the most current events conscious approach.

Oh, that's right. Lobbyist and special interest groups would find it tougher to fleece the government in those scenarios.

Blimpie
06-30-2005, 01:37 PM
Speaking as someone who has a vested interest in this industry, I think road and bridge privatization is a good idea. My company has evolved into one that does highway contracting work in about ten states. Although it is not our preference, we currently find ourselves jumping around here and there trying to "go where the work is" because our home state does not have the highway funding to bid all of the work that is required.

Meanwhile, Congress remains in their second year of gridlock (no pun intended) relative to the reauthorization of the newest version of the federal Transportation bill. Right now, it has become nothing more than a partisan attempt to payback favors to campaign contributors; while, attempting to remain mindful of budget constraints.

Things like this already occur with the privatizing of certain tollbooths (the Cross Island Parkway booth on Hilton Head was owned by Lockheed Martin). On a similar note, contractors who do Ohio Department of Transportation projects are issued tax-exemption certificates for all materials they purchase for use on ODOT jobs. This way, the state can keep taxpayer dollars from being used to pay, well, taxes. The REAL dilemma will come forth--not when the roads and bridges are built--but when the states, counties and private entities are trying to pass the buck on maintaining the infrastructure. That's where most of the hidden costs truly lie in this industry.

At the end of the day, if taxpayer dollars can be saved on roadwork without compromising safety or design, most people shouldn't care if roads are privatized. As long as we don't begin seeing the "Geritol Florida Turnpike" or the "United Dairy Farmers Bypass", most citizens would be hard-pressed to even notice such a change.

Redsfaithful
06-30-2005, 01:38 PM
How about providing incentives for developing viable mass transit, or alternate fuel vehicles instead? More roads for more cars doesn't necessarily seem like the most current events conscious approach.

Oh, that's right. Lobbyist and special interest groups would find it tougher to fleece the government in those scenarios.

My sentiments exactly.

Chip R
06-30-2005, 01:40 PM
I wouldn't mind these roads being toll roads as long as the tolls paid for upkeep of said roads.

Rojo
06-30-2005, 02:54 PM
Ochre got it right.

If this is such a great "Market Oriented Solution" then why do these companies need their bonds tax exempted?

To recap, Congress has encouraged fossil fuel use, de-funded public infrastructure, cut taxes for the rich and sub-contracted work to foreign companies. All in the same bill!

Fantastic.

Falls City Beer
06-30-2005, 03:45 PM
How about providing incentives for developing viable mass transit, or alternate fuel vehicles instead? More roads for more cars doesn't necessarily seem like the most current events conscious approach.

Oh, that's right. Lobbyist and special interest groups would find it tougher to fleece the government in those scenarios.

Per usual, awesome, intelligent, forward-thinking ideas. Which means the government will pan them.

MuEconRedLeg
06-30-2005, 10:36 PM
How about providing incentives for developing viable mass transit, or alternate fuel vehicles instead? More roads for more cars doesn't necessarily seem like the most current events conscious approach.

Oh, that's right. Lobbyist and special interest groups would find it tougher to fleece the government in those scenarios.

The public continues to buy cars and crowd roads; therefore they demand upkeep and expansion from the government, even if it is not the best path.

To democracy or not to democracy?

creek14
07-01-2005, 08:46 AM
I'm going to make my driveway toll access, that way maybe the in-laws won't visit as often.

TRF
07-01-2005, 09:28 AM
so, I own a private toll road. And unless you pay the toll, no access.

now imagine that toll comes in the form of a card. you swipe the card, and it automatically computes the miles and sends you a monthly bill. Now imagine filling out the application for said card and being rejected because your credit score is too low, or a mistake on your credit report.

want to bet this happens at some point?

RedsBaron
07-01-2005, 09:28 AM
I'm going to make my driveway toll access, that way maybe the in-laws won't visit as often. :laugh:

Chip R
07-01-2005, 10:06 AM
The public continues to buy cars and crowd roads; therefore they demand upkeep and expansion from the government, even if it is not the best path.

To democracy or not to democracy?That's an excellent point. I like mass transit as much as anyone but if the people don't want it and aren't going to use it, what are you going to do? I lived in Kansas for about a year and would have to use the Kansas Turnpike every time I wanted to visit my family back in Iowa or if I wanted to go to Kansas City or Oklahoma. That turnpike was really smooth to drive on - and I know from what Johnny speaks of about Missouri roads. Sure, the tolls are a bit of a pain but if they go to keep the roads up on a regular basis, I'm all for them. Perhaps the money that went for the upkeep on the interstates could go to the secondary roads.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 10:19 AM
That's an excellent point. I like mass transit as much as anyone but if the people don't want it and aren't going to use it, what are you going to do? I lived in Kansas for about a year and would have to use the Kansas Turnpike every time I wanted to visit my family back in Iowa or if I wanted to go to Kansas City or Oklahoma. That turnpike was really smooth to drive on - and I know from what Johnny speaks of about Missouri roads. Sure, the tolls are a bit of a pain but if they go to keep the roads up on a regular basis, I'm all for them. Perhaps the money that went for the upkeep on the interstates could go to the secondary roads.

I agree. I also think there are many areas that are well spread out and would make mass transit very difficult.

But, I can think of roughly 10 areas throughout WV that desperately need new development or continued development for both commuters and business. The state cannot afford new development, the area is way down the list, or that county's elected officials are ineffective.

I think private development of toll roads in many of these areas would be a great idea. I do not advocate turning over all current roads especially important routes. But, it would be nice to see some of these areas "opened" up while the state works to improve the main areas.

Falls City Beer
07-01-2005, 10:23 AM
Make the mass-transit system a better option than sitting in traffic; don't half-ass it or underfund it, the way most cities do.

If you build it (well), they will come.

Johnny Footstool
07-01-2005, 10:29 AM
I lived in Kansas for about a year and would have to use the Kansas Turnpike every time I wanted to visit my family back in Iowa or if I wanted to go to Kansas City or Oklahoma. That turnpike was really smooth to drive on

The Kansas Turnpike is a great road, and the revenue it generates goes into the state coffers. The nice thing is that if you don't like the way the funds are being used, you can vote your state legislator out of office. So there is a degree of accountability.

As I understand it, the revenue generated from private toll roads would go to the individual/company that owns the road. The public ends up throwing money into another corporation instead of into the state. Bad news, IMO.

rdiersin
07-01-2005, 10:54 AM
The Kansas Turnpike is a great road, and the revenue it generates goes into the state coffers. The nice thing is that if you don't like the way the funds are being used, you can vote your state legislator out of office. So there is a degree of accountability.

As I understand it, the revenue generated from private toll roads would go to the individual/company that owns the road. The public ends up throwing money into another corporation instead of into the state. Bad news, IMO.

I agree with this. Here in northern IN, the state was thinking about this option of selling the IN Toll Rd. I like the toll rd, it is in good shape and they do a great job of removing the lake effect snow. I don't think a private company would be as accountable to the public. Also it seems short sighted. Yes the state gets money now, but they wouldn't get all the revenue the road generates in say five years from now.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 11:01 AM
The Kansas Turnpike is a great road, and the revenue it generates goes into the state coffers. The nice thing is that if you don't like the way the funds are being used, you can vote your state legislator out of office. So there is a degree of accountability.

As I understand it, the revenue generated from private toll roads would go to the individual/company that owns the road. The public ends up throwing money into another corporation instead of into the state. Bad news, IMO.

But, can your state gear up enough money to develop new road projects? This is an opportunity that would allow new development to new areas, without the states going into debt with the taxpayer's charge card. Plus, a regulatory institution could be created, through taxes on the new tolls, to give public oversight.

I would agree this is bad if it only allowed companies to buy up already established highways, but I do not think that is the case.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 11:04 AM
I agree with this. Here in northern IN, the state was thinking about this option of selling the IN Toll Rd. I like the toll rd, it is in good shape and they do a great job of removing the lake effect snow. I don't think a private company would be as accountable to the public. Also it seems short sighted. Yes the state gets money now, but they wouldn't get all the revenue the road generates in say five years from now.

I find current accountablity for public highways/roads to be in a very poor. Unless, of course, you live in a district from which the legislative power players reside. ;)

ochre
07-01-2005, 11:30 AM
The Federal government has expanded (in influence at least) over the last 50-60 years due in part to the funding they control for the interstate road systems. They have extorted concessions from the states on issues they wanted pushed (speed limits, drinking age, seat belt laws, etc). Now they are going to further muck that up by introducing private sector companies as intermediaries? Imagine the eminent domain questions when rival road companies want to build competing roadways.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 11:44 AM
The Federal government has expanded (in influence at least) over the last 50-60 years due in part to the funding they control for the interstate road systems. They have extorted concessions from the states on issues they wanted pushed (speed limits, drinking age, seat belt laws, etc). Now they are going to further muck that up by introducing private sector companies as intermediaries? Imagine the eminent domain questions when rival road companies want to build competing roadways.

There would still be plenty of pork available for the Feds use as leverage against the states. Economic development grants are quickly becoming king of that money in that regard anyway.

Plus, nobody is arguing for the complete privatization of current highway infrastructure, thus allowing them to act as intermediaries. Nor, would this bill limit the States in developing new roads. This would simply allow for private companies to raise capital for the development of new highways.

I imagine that something like this might be the only chance some projects will get.

M2
07-01-2005, 11:46 AM
They'll have to pry private toll road money from my cold, dead hands.

Falls City Beer
07-01-2005, 11:50 AM
There would still be plenty of pork available for the Feds use as leverage against the states. Economic development grants are quickly becoming king of that money in that regard anyway.

Plus, nobody is arguing for the complete privatization of current highway infrastructure, thus allowing them to act as intermediaries. Nor, would this bill limit the States in developing new roads. This would simply allow for private companies to raise capital for the development of new highways.

I imagine that something like this might be the only chance some projects will get.

I have less issue with the privatization than I do with the insistence on roads and cars as the ONLY option.

Build a private/public merger to coordinate, develop, and create mass-transit systems that make sense, save money, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, etc. Businesses "create" demand for their products all the time; why not "create" demand for mass-transit? If it can be done, it should be done; if it should be done, it can be done.

Chip R
07-01-2005, 11:57 AM
The problem with privately owned roads is the accountability. If Microsoft buys I-74 and they let it go to hell, what is the person who has to drive between Indy and Cincinnati going to do? He can always use back roads but that's going to cost him time and could take twice as long as it would normally. It's not like Apple could build a competing interstate.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 11:58 AM
I have less issue with the privatization than I do with the insistence on roads and cars as the ONLY option.

A private/public merger to coordinate, develop, and create mass-transit systems that make sense, save money, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, etc. Businesses "create" demand for their products all the time; why not "create" demand for mass-transit? If it can be done, it should be done; if it should be done, it can be done.


Well if private companies begin to build some new roads, which would alleviate some tax money from development, maybe the elect can use that money for mass transit systems.

Nor, do I see where this is the only option, or why new private road development cannot work with mass transit. There is still going to be a need for new highway systems and roads even with quality mass transit. Even under the most optimistic assumptions.

Falls City Beer
07-01-2005, 12:01 PM
Well if private companies begin to build some new roads, which would alleviate some tax money from development, maybe the elect can use that money for mass transit systems.

Nor, do I see where this is the only option, or why new private road development cannot work with mass transit. There is still going to be a need for new highway systems and roads even with quality mass transit. Even under the most optimistic assumptions.

I'm actually not arguing against you at all. My point is complementary and coeval with your point I think. I'm not saying "instead", necessarily; I'm saying "in addition," with an eye toward changing a rather stunted worldview of transportation.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 12:02 PM
The problem with privately owned roads is the accountability. If Microsoft buys I-74 and they let it go to hell, what is the person who has to drive between Indy and Cincinnati going to do? He can always use back roads but that's going to cost him time and could take twice as long as it would normally. It's not like Apple could build a competing interstate.

I do not think they should be able to put up tolls on roads already built with tax funds either. But, that is not an argument against new projects or half completed projects being undertaken by private interests.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 12:08 PM
I'm actually not arguing against you at all. My point is complementary and coeval with your point I think. I'm not saying "instead", necessarily; I'm saying "in addition," with an eye toward changing a rather stunted worldview of transportation.

Fair enough. And, I think many areas could and should concentrate on mass transit. But, there are many areas, such as were I live in WV, that mass transit would not be a reasonable undertaking, it could only serve a few yet cost a great deal. Therefore, I think private development of roads is a quality option in many cases and should not be counted out simply because of a transit preference.

M2
07-01-2005, 12:42 PM
MERL,

It was the creation of the public road system that opened up transportation in this country. Prior to that we were under the stranglehold of railroad robber barons. Arguably the greatest social revolution in 20th century America was the creation of the trucking industry. We might have been headed toward neo-feudalism without it.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 01:28 PM
MERL,

It was the creation of the public road system that opened up transportation in this country. Prior to that we were under the stranglehold of railroad robber barons. Arguably the greatest social revolution in 20th century America was the creation of the trucking industry. We might have been headed toward neo-feudalism without it.


All the more reason private development is a good thing.

I think it is fairly obvious that governments all the way from the cities to the fed have so many monetary obligations that producing new and better highways is no longer at the top of the totem pole. Not to mention any major venture requires the issuing of more debt and most governments are fairly well leveraged as is.

If there are a handful of companies that see profitability in creating some new toll roads I cannot see why we should not let them. Might even do a lot of good for some areas, much like public highways did.

M2
07-01-2005, 01:35 PM
All the more reason private development is a good thing.

I think it is fairly obvious that governments all the way from the cities to the fed have so many monetary obligations that producing new and better highways is no longer at the top of the totem pole. Not to mention any major venture requires the issuing of more debt and most governments are fairly well leveraged as is.

If there are a handful of companies that see profitability in creating some new toll roads I cannot see why we should not let them. Might even do a lot of good for some areas, much like public highways did.

You completely missed what I was saying. It would have been impossible to miss it by a wider margin.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 01:46 PM
You completely missed what I was saying. It would have been impossible to miss it by a wider margin.

Then do explain.

registerthis
07-01-2005, 01:54 PM
The problem with privately owned roads is the accountability. If Microsoft buys I-74 and they let it go to hell, what is the person who has to drive between Indy and Cincinnati going to do? He can always use back roads but that's going to cost him time and could take twice as long as it would normally. It's not like Apple could build a competing interstate.
It would probably become much the same way that government contracting is handled today. If you don't perform ably, you won't get the opportunity. I'm sure the government would recognize that roadways and highways are crucial to commerce and the betterment of everyone's lives, I highly doubt they would implement this policy in such a way as to allow a private road owner of, say, I-74 let the road go to hell with no accountability.

Or I could be wrong.

M2
07-01-2005, 01:57 PM
The railroads were a private transportation network, gouging the companies reliant upon it for the shipment of goods. Every robber baron demanded tribute for every passage. It drove the price of consumer goods past the point where the average citizen could afford it and it was bringing the economy to a standstill. Then came roads and trucks. Most roads (99.something%) are free and it allows business to spring up and thrive anywhere in America thanks to, since the creation of the public road system, consistently affordable shipping costs.

Of course private companies want in on this. It's an absolute necessity and the government just gives it away. I'm sure this one's straight off the drawing board at Bechtel. Then again, so was Boston's Big Dig and the Bolivian national water system. Why not just pass a law that allows private companies to come and harvest your organs whenever they want them? It wouldn't be any more painful.

Chip R
07-01-2005, 02:09 PM
It would probably become much the same way that government contracting is handled today. If you don't perform ably, you won't get the opportunity. I'm sure the government would recognize that roadways and highways are crucial to commerce and the betterment of everyone's lives, I highly doubt they would implement this policy in such a way as to allow a private road owner of, say, I-74 let the road go to hell with no accountability.

Or I could be wrong.
But that's the thing. Let's say the government put I-74 up for sale. Microsoft or some other company bought it. It's theirs, lock, stock and orange barrels. Let's say that they had a bad fiscal year. Microsoft decides not to spend the money to make necessary road improvements. Now I-74 is full of potholes and drivers are hitting these things at 75 mph. The government can't do anything about it cause it's not their road any more. You can't go to a competing company's road because there isn't one that is on the same path as I-74. What recourse does the consumer have except not to buy any more Microsoft products? Now if there were a way for the companies to be held accountable for maintenance then I wouldn't care if there was a Microsoft logo every mile.

registerthis
07-01-2005, 02:20 PM
But that's the thing. Let's say the government put I-74 up for sale. Microsoft or some other company bought it. It's theirs, lock, stock and orange barrels.
See, I don't think they would do that. I guess I envisioned the program to be the government allowing a prviate company to take over control and maintenance of the road, and in return they would receive the toll proceeds...but that the gov't would reserve the right to step back in if the company failed or was unable to keep the road up. I didn't view this as the gov't "selling" the roadway to the private company--which I would be opposed to.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 02:27 PM
The railroads were a private transportation network, gouging the companies reliant upon it for the shipment of goods. Every robber baron demanded tribute for every passage. It drove the price of consumer goods past the point where the average citizen could afford it and it was bringing the economy to a standstill. Then came roads and trucks. Most roads (99.something%) are free and it allows business to spring up and thrive anywhere in America thanks to, since the creation of the public road system, consistently affordable shipping costs.

Of course private companies want in on this. It's an absolute necessity and the government just gives it away. I'm sure this one's straight off the drawing board at Bechtel. Then again, so was Boston's Big Dig and the Bolivian national water system. Why not just pass a law that allows private companies to come and harvest your organs whenever they want them? It wouldn't be any more painful.

I understood fully your post and that is exactly what I was responding to.

Neither this article nor I am advocating private companies be allowed to buy out all of public highways. In fact, I do not think governments should allow companies to come along and buy up established roads! Fourth time I have said this, I think. But, this scenario is where your argument rests.

Now, I think your Jennifer Government nightmare is nowhere near what this article or bill calls for. We are talking about 10 - 15 privately developed and funded roadways. In fact, it appears to me their primary goal is connector routes and extensions. It is not going to give anybody anywhere near a monopoly, and it will probably boost economic activity and efficiency in several areas.

M2
07-01-2005, 02:36 PM
I understood fully your post and that is exactly what I was responding to.

Neither this article nor I am advocating private companies be allowed to buy out all of public highways. In fact, I do not think governments should allow companies to come along and buy up established roads! Fourth time I have said this, I think. But, this scenario is where your argument rests.

Now, I think your Jennifer Government nightmare is nowhere near what this article or bill calls for. We are talking about 10 - 15 privately developed and funded roadways. In fact, it appears to me their primary goal is connector routes and extensions. It is not going to give anybody anywhere near a monopoly, and it will probably boost economic activity and efficiency in several areas.

It'll increase the number of middlemen looking for a buck between point A and point B. Plus, and you're still not getting it, this nation's already experienced the folly of privatized ground transport.

I don't care if the proposal is to only let the wolf eat a few chickens in the henhouse. I don't want the wolf near the henhouse period. A little bit of a bad idea is not a good thing.

ochre
07-01-2005, 02:54 PM
There would still be plenty of pork available for the Feds use as leverage against the states. Economic development grants are quickly becoming king of that money in that regard anyway.


I don't want the Federal Government to have more leverage. I hate that they influence state policy for their own (usually well lobbyied) agendas. I am probably a little myopic, but I'd prefer a system that keeps tax dollars more local where they should be more accountable. Should (in theory) cut down on the massive administrative overhead that is required for the centralized system we currently are encumbered by as well.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 03:05 PM
It'll increase the number of middlemen looking for a buck between point A and point B. Plus, and you're still not getting it, this nation's already experienced the folly of privatized ground transport.

I don't care if the proposal is to only let the wolf eat a few chickens in the henhouse. I don't want the wolf near the henhouse period. A little bit of a bad idea is not a good thing.

I get your point perfectly.

Private railroads were bad; therefore any private ownership of roads is bad = Communism was bad; therefore any state ownership is bad.

But, you have not established how this SPECIFICALLY is a bad idea. While, I have addressed several areas that show this to be a beneficial policy.

MuEconRedLeg
07-01-2005, 03:09 PM
I don't want the Federal Government to have more leverage. I hate that they influence state policy for their own (usually well lobbyied) agendas. I am probably a little myopic, but I'd prefer a system that keeps tax dollars more local where they should be more accountable. Should (in theory) cut down on the massive administrative overhead that is required for the centralized system we currently are encumbered by as well.

I agree 100%.

Allowing the states to find other sources for the development of new roads would decrease their need for highway pork.

M2
07-01-2005, 03:52 PM
I get your point perfectly.

Private railroads were bad; therefore any private ownership of roads is bad = Communism was bad; therefore any state ownership is bad.

But, you have not established how this SPECIFICALLY is a bad idea. While, I have addressed several areas that show this to be a beneficial policy.

No, you've floated a few hokey rationales for it and nothing beyond that. Anyone who understands WHY the private railroads were a bad idea shouldn't need an explanation as to why the privatization of ANY roadway subject to public use is a bad idea.

You are interrupting the flow of free commerce, and if you get the point you still haven't shown me any evidence of it.

You are introducing an element that will only serve to raise business costs and consumer prices using the flimsy cover of government not being 100% efficient or openly accountable. Government never will be, neither will any private company (more efficient in terms of delivering on that which makes it profit perhaps, but you can throw accountability out the window).

Quick, not quite parallel, example: I flew from Oakland to Boston yesterday. There was an e-mail I wanted to jet off to a co-worker, but I couldn't get a wireless signal at the Oakland airport. I land in Boston, fire up my laptop and find the Logan Airport wireless network, only there's a catch. They want $7.95 before I can use it. Technically I've got everything I need to drive the information superhighway in my hand, but Logan wants me to pay an extra toll. Really, it's not that much, but forget that noise. I can get over to South Station quick enough if I really need to send something and it's WAY more comfortable. The sad thing for Logan is that I'd have probably settled down to do a little more work and bought some food had I been able to get on my merry way without the fee. In fact, I'd probably plan to get to the airport early and linger after arrival in the future if I knew I could be productive on that time. They'd stand to make a lot more than $7.95 on me in that scenario. Now I'm not arriving a second earlier than I need to nor am I hanging around.

Don't put up barriers to commerce, period. It's like taxing the Internet.

For the rest, so they promise they won't rape us this time. We're going to make them stop at inappropriate fondling. Hooray inappropriate fondling.

ochre
07-01-2005, 03:57 PM
No, you've floated a few hokey rationales for it and nothing beyond that. Anyone who understands WHY the private railroads were a bad idea shouldn't need an explanation as to why the privatization of ANY roadway subject to public use is a bad idea.


And consider for a moment Interstate highways. What happens when you hit your neighboring state's border and they have gone with different vendor that charges more for your use? Turn around and go back, if you find it unacceptable? At least with the robber baron train runners you knew the fare before you boarded.

REDREAD
07-05-2005, 05:08 PM
At the end of the day, if taxpayer dollars can be saved on roadwork without compromising safety or design, most people shouldn't care if roads are privatized. As long as we don't begin seeing the "Geritol Florida Turnpike" or the "United Dairy Farmers Bypass", most citizens would be hard-pressed to even notice such a change.

Isn't the proposal to make the private roads toll roads though?

I'd rather them cut other waste to fund the roads or even up the taxes. Toll roads stink, IMO. It's a lot more efficient to collect the money in taxes.

Now if the government paid the private road owners "rent" to maintain them, I would be agreeable to that. But I don't want to have to pay 20 tolls on my way to the grocery store every day.

Unassisted
07-05-2005, 06:48 PM
Isn't the proposal to make the private roads toll roads though?

I'd rather them cut other waste to fund the roads or even up the taxes. Toll roads stink, IMO. It's a lot more efficient to collect the money in taxes.
<snip>
I don't want to have to pay 20 tolls on my way to the grocery store every day.The proposals around here are to make new highway projects toll and new lanes to existing highways toll. The rationale is that the state doesn't have enough money to build needed roads/lanes for a decade or two. With private money and tolls, the new highway sections can be built right away.

You'll still be able to use the old, crowded lanes that lead to the grocery store for free. It'll just take you longer to get where you are going than it would on the toll lanes. I saw on the news the other night that the nickname for these lanes in places that have already done this is "Lexus Lanes." You can imagine why.

Chip R
07-05-2005, 07:36 PM
Isn't the proposal to make the private roads toll roads though?

I'd rather them cut other waste to fund the roads or even up the taxes. Toll roads stink, IMO. It's a lot more efficient to collect the money in taxes.

Now if the government paid the private road owners "rent" to maintain them, I would be agreeable to that. But I don't want to have to pay 20 tolls on my way to the grocery store every day.It's not like that. When I lived in Kansas, a portion of Interstate 35 from somewhere in E. KS to the Oklahoma border was - and still is - the Kansas Turnpike. You get something when you get on and pay when you get off. The more miles you go, the more you pay. Also the bigger your vehicle the more you pay. Anyway I-35 goes through Wichita. There are about 7-8, maybe more, toll exits in Wichita. So if you lived in one part of town and you wanted to take the turnpike to the other part of town you just pay one toll. You don't go through 20 toll booths just to go cross town - or cross state for that matter. About the only drawback about the Turnpike is that there weren't enough places to stop along the way. You either had to stop at an oasis - which was a combination convenience store and rest stop - or you exited on one of the toll exits. Where if you are on the interstate and you need to stop, there's always an exit coming up within the next few miles.

REDREAD
07-07-2005, 04:52 PM
ok, thanks for clearing that up ChipR and Unassisted.

Still. I don't like the idea. Too much temptation down the road for the government to shut down the free roads and force everyone on the toll road. Let's say that in 10 years, the gov decides it's not financially worth it to maintain an old road that has a toll counterpart.