The public-private canker is spreading…now to Pennsylvania!

This reporter needs to hear from Texans that public-private partnerships have NOT worked well in Texas, they’re detested by the public, and they continued to be done in secret. In fact, these foreign companies are suing Texas taxpayers to keep the terms of these sweetheart deals SECRET from the public: read about it in the Houston Chronicle.

Notice how these two Pennsylvania lawmakers think tolling existing right of way (whether stacking or in the median) is fair game in the same breath they say they’re against tolling existing freeways!

Lawmakers propose allowing privately operated toll roads
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
BY CHARLES THOMPSON
The Patriot-News

Two legislative leaders on transportation issues said yesterday they want Pennsylvania to consider privately built and operated toll roads as a way to deal with increasing highway traffic.

Reps. Richard Geist, R-Blair, and Keith McCall, D-Carbon, said public-private partnerships have worked well in other states, including Virginia, Texas and Florida, and could bridge Pennsylvania’s gap between highway project wish lists — which Geist said now exceed $30 billion — and available public funding.

“We need to take a serious look at revenue-generating alternatives, like tolling, in order to maintain and expand Pennsylvania’s highway system,” said Geist, whose House Transportation Committee recently completed a study of toll roads in other states.

“We’re just not going to be able to raise any more revenue at the pump” through gas taxes, he said.

Geist and McCall, the committee’s senior Democrat, stopped short of proposing specific projects. Their goal is to draft legislation by year’s end to enable such partnerships and establish criteria for determining where they could work, the lawmakers said.

The two stressed they would not support placing tolls on existing highways, which, they reasoned, taxpayers already have paid for.

Adding decks or restricted-access lanes to existing highways, would be a different matter, they said.

Those improvements could be financed through public-private partnerships and tolls, they said. McCall cited the concept of a privately funded upper deck built over portions of the Schuylkill Expressway, where the existing lower lanes would remain free.

CHARLES THOMPSON: 705-5724 or cthompson@patriot-news.com.

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