Express-News blog on National Coalition to stop the privatizing of our public roadways

Link to blog here.

Someone needs to tell “Hugh” in the comment section of Driscoll’s blog that the “senseless muck” he says toll opponents have spewed here locally is the same exact arguments these guys made in their press conference. Hugh needs to tune-in a bit closer…what he calls well reasoned arguments of this national coalition are all over our web site and SO ARE THE PROPOSED ALTERNATIVES!

Profits over motorists?
By Pat Driscoll
Express-News blog
February 12, 2007

A national push to privatize roads will help ensure profits for private companies and quick cash for governments, but motorists will be the losers, says a new coalition of highway user groups.

Americans for a Strong National Highway Network sent a letter dated Feb. 8 to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, raising concerns about a recent federal blueprint to make it easier for state legislatures to jump into privatization.

As long as making money is the top priority, safety and mobility could get worse, it states. Non-compete clauses — which are often required in public-private toll deals — skew market forces, and it’s likely that some of the funds gained would be diverted to non-transportation uses.

“The administration appears to be promoting unlimited growth in public-private partnerships without fully considering the impact,” the letter says. “We have serious reservations about whether these deals are being structured in the public’s long-term best interest.”

The letter is signed by officials with …

American Highway Users Alliance
American Motorcyclist Association
American Trucking Associations
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association

The coalition held a press conference Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, Land Line Magazine reported.

“The companies investing in our roads want to induce congestion on the roads they profit from, not reduce it. Their profits are derived from high traffic volumes and high tolls,” Todd Spencer of the Independent Drivers Association is quoted as saying. “We recognize elected officials are confronted with difficult funding decisions, but these deals are akin to a pawn-shop mentality of hocking your assets for cash now.”

“Under the worst of these deals, highway users and the public are ignored or purposely locked out from negotiations while politicians salivate over filling state-coffers with billions in fast cash,” Greg Cohen of the American Highway Users Alliance said in a statement. “As part of these deals, brokerage firms charge massive transaction fees and private road operators earn massive profits over time by scheduling increasing tolls and opposing competition.”

Meanwhile …

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit has scheduled a Tuesday hearing on public-private partnerships.

“For the Bush Administration, the rush to promote public-private partnerships is based in ideology, not a critical evaluation of how public-private partnerships might help meet the goal of an improved, integrated national transportation system,” subcommittee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., is quoted as saying in a NATSCO statement.

And from ranking member John J. Duncan, Jr., R-Tenn., in the same statement: I share this coalition’s concerns about the recent waive of long-term leases of existing toll roads by private entities. I believe we need to understand the impacts that tolling can have on the traveling public, private industry and the economy before we enter into any more of these agreements.