The Uncertain Future of Public Roads

Source: Eric Jaffe, Atlantic Cities, May 6, 2013

…Public-private partnerships for infrastructure (often called PPPs or P3s) have been on the rise in recent years, and many experts believe the trend has yet to peak. If the activity of the past several weeks is any indication, they may be right. A billion-dollar PPP for the East End Crossing, in Indiana, was announced in late March. News of a $1.5 billion PPP overhaul of the Goethals Bridge, in New York City, came in April. The Pennsylvania D.O.T. placed an open call to private firms for PPP projects just last week….. But as public-private partnerships become more common, there’s a heightened fear that local governments are giving away too much in the deal. Some scholars, public interest groups, and lawmakers caution that PPPs often fail to deliver the improvements they promise, cuff the hands of local officials for generations, undermine comprehensive urban planning, and threaten the core value of roads as a public service. For every new attempt at PPP success, they say, there are multiple examples of partnerships that failed….