In a victory for drivers and taxpayers, a private consortium led by Citigroup and Spanish toll road operator Abertis Infraestructuras has, through a competitive bidding process, won the right for a 75-year lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The deal now waits on a final vote in the state legislature.
As noted in the Summer 2008 issue of Reason Reports, a quarterly update on activities of the libertarian Reason Foundation, the proposed $12.8 billion lease would be the largest ever in the U.S., dwarfing the $3.8 billion concession agreement for the Indiana Toll Road in 2006.
The deal is also a victory for the Reason Foundation and, in particular, Reason founder and Florida RLCer Robert Poole. Poole, as director of transportation studies at Reason, has been laying the groundwork for the success of this deal with research and commentary for years.
Currently, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is one of the country’s least cost-efficient toll roads, in a state whose roads have earned a ‘D’ from the American Society of Civil Engineers and has the county’s most deficient bridges.
Poole and Reason have long pointed to the advantages of using private – rather than government — capital and know-how to improve and maintain infrastructure. In fact, Poole is credited in inventing and popularizing the word ‘privatization,’ which refers to transferring resources and functions from the government to the people — the reverse of socialist ‘nationalization.’