Infrastructure Bill Tries To Boost Number of Toll Roads While Exempting Almost All Drivers From Tolls
One consequence of Congress trying to do everything infrastructure-related in one big, hastily put-together bill is that many new programs are effectively designed to fail. For example: a program that tries to boost the number of privately operated toll roads in the country while also exempting almost all drivers from paying tolls.
Tucked inside the 2,700-page, $550 billion bill passed by the Senate last week is a program that would give states, localities, and other government bodies grants to assist them in leasing out their roads to private infrastructure companies.
The idea behind leasing out government roads would be to tap private capital, which could then pay for new infrastructure projects or fund the repair of existing aging assets. These asset concessions are common enough in Europe and Australia. Most state and local governments have little experience with them, however.
Enter the infrastructure bill’s technical assistance grants. State, local, or tribal governments could receive up to $2 million to hire staff to work on concession agreements, identify assets that could be leased out, and solicit bids from private infrastructure firms.
This is one way states could rebuild an Interstate Highway System that’s nearing the end of its useful life, says Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation (which publishes this website).
“There’s no replacement federal program to do about what’s estimated to be a $1 trillion rebuilding over the next twenty years. They’re ideally situated for toll financing,” says Pool
Article from Latest – Reason.com