PA Turnpike Fast Facts
SUSQUEHANNA VALLEY CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY
Pennsylvania Turnpike Fast Facts for May 1, 2008:
The Yellow Brick Road Really is Gold
THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST PLACING THE PA TURNPIKE IN A LONG-TERM LEASE ARRANGEMENT
The Susquehanna Valley Center for Public Policy will continue to follow the developments in transportation infrastructure in our Commonwealth. However, it is useful to summarize the arguments against placing the Pennsylvania Turnpike in a long-term lease arrangement:
1) The American public sector has only been selling and engaging in long-term leases of public highways for about three years. Additional time for study of monetization is needed for after initial good reports about the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road arrangements; more recent reports are being issued that call the wisdom of these agreements into question.
2) Money that is earned by the Turnpike should stay in public hands not be sent to private sector investors as profit while denying the public the opportunity to benefit.
3) The safety, security, and service given to users of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is better than that of any other highways in the state. This was vividly illustrated last winter during the snowstorm that stranded thousands of motorists on I-78 for more than a day in February 2007.
4) If Turnpike users are willing to pay higher tolls, the extra revenue generated should be dedicated to improving that roadway and the state's transportation infrastructure as opposed to being used as profits that are streamed away to private investors.
5) The responsibility of repairing and building new transportation infrastructure in Pennsylvania should not rest solely on the shoulders of Turnpike customers. Those who use other highways and bridges should also be asked to shoulder some of this burden and contribute to this effort.
David Lutterick, an American writer for the London-based Telegraph warns us. He noted that the Australian bank, Macquarie, a partner in the Indiana Toll Road lease, longs to "take over the world" based on his contacts with them. He warns his readers to consider such private-public partnerships carefully and not lose sight of the public interest.