Private Highways: Road to Riches – or Ruin?

Study says taxpayers lost out on “very large” revenues in Indiana deal.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


As James Ridgeway and Daniel Schulman note in a Mother Jones investigation, in the rush to privatize the nation’s aging roads and bridges there have been very few independent assessments of whether these projects are good for taxpayers — or just for the corporations and bankers who structure the deals. One of the few such efforts to have been examined from a variety of angles is the privatization of the Indiana Toll Road. In November, NW Financial, a New Jersey-based municipal finance firm that advises governments on public financing projects and includes “privatizations and regionalizations” among its areas of expertise, released a study of the deal. The analysis was spearheaded by Dennis Enright, one of the firm’s founders and the former planning and development director for Jersey City, New Jersey.

The study concludes that because of the Toll Road deal, Indiana will lose out on significant revenues, and that the state could have easily financed the road itself. “Indiana’s sale of the Toll Road,” it says, “while helping fund transportation projects for the next ten years, will result in depriving the public transportation funding network of very large and much needed future revenues in the final 65 years of the concession agreement to pay for publicly needed capital projects both on and off the toll road. Instead these revenues are directed to private corporate profits and shareholders. If road users are willing to pay higher tolls, these funds should be captured for the public good.”

The study goes on: “Public financing at the same (or even greater) monetization levels would have been very feasible for the Indiana Toll Road transaction and should be considered as a public policy alternative to privatization.
Public monetization produces the upfront economic benefit but leaves the control of the road and the future cash flows in the hands of the public sector to fund transportation needs.”

Read the full report here.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate