Category Archives: Transportation

Toll Road bid: $3.85 billion / Daniels pushing for quick action; others urge study

Source: By Niki Kelly, The Journal Gazette (IN), Jan 24, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana would reap $3.85 billion for highway construction under a winning bid unveiled by Gov. Mitch Daniels on Monday to lease the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years. He still needs lawmakers to pass legislation authorizing him to sign a contract with Statewide Mobility Partners – a joint venture of two companies based in Australia and Spain that would operate and maintain the road.

World crisscrossed by private roads

Source: KEITH BENMAN, Northwest Indiana Times, Jan 23, 2006

There are no toll booths on 407 ETR, an all-electronic private toll road north of Toronto. Electronic sensors and video cameras log in cars and trucks as they zip on the 67-mile expressway. Tolls are paid later, online or by mail. Advertised as the “world’s smartest highway,” the six-lane expressway just 500 miles from Northwest Indiana is a case study in both the promise and perils of toll road privatization. 407 ETR allows commuters to avoid one of North America’s busiest truck routes and has seen $900 million in additional investment under private operation. “Our reputation is still growing,” said Dale Albers, a spokesman for operator 407 International Inc. “If you need to save time, go with us.” But the road has led to courtroom collisions between the Ontario provincial government and 407 International. The two have butted heads over toll increases and toll enforcement.

Private funding for I-95 scrapped

Source: MIKE BILLINGTON, The News Journal (DE), 12/21/2005

A controversial plan to form a public-private partnership to overhaul the most congested section of I-95 through Delaware has been scrapped, according to state Department of Transportation officials. The decision to abandon first-ever efforts to create such a partnership will not delay the start of work on the project near Christiana, Transportation Secretary Nathan Hayward III said Tuesday. Work is slated to start in the summer, he said.

Toll roads with a cash-out option

Source: Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY, December 15, 2005

State and local governments are singing a new tune in operating toll roads: selling or leasing them for cash and letting private companies run them. The governments plan to use money from the transactions to build new roads, repair old ones or pay for other programs. The idea has caught fire since Chicago leased its Skyway — an 8-mile elevated highway that carries traffic from the city to the Indiana border — for $1.8 billion in cash to Spanish and Australian investors in January. The Skyway had lost money for decades and only recently had turned profitable, generating $40 million in tolls and $20 million in profits last year. The price for the 99-year lease was more than twice as much as any other company bid. Now other governments around the country are examining what their toll roads are worth and wondering whether they can get a Chicago-style windfall — or at least a good deal.

Bill will look at licenses / Services could be outsourced

Source: Nancy Cook Lauer, Tallahassee Democrat (FL), Dec 7, 2005

A bill that could lead to outsourcing the jobs of 1,614 state workers moved forward Tuesday in the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill, SB 268 by Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, requires the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles study the outsourcing of driver’s licenses services to see if they can be done cheaper and better by the private sector. ….. The Division of Driver Licenses currently has a $98 million budget and employs 1,614 full-time employees, with about 1,000 of them scattered around the state in 100 field offices. ….. Fred Dickinson, director of the state agency, told lawmakers that he’d be glad to do the study. He said later that similar studies have found that the state can administer driver’s licenses more efficiently and economically than can the private sector.

Privatizing highways: solution or setback?

Source: PATRICK JACKSON and J.L. MILLER, The News Journal (DE), 11/27/2005

Mark Jackson is mystified by the notion that Delaware could plug its $2.7 billion shortfall in road construction money by leasing I-95 and Del. 1 to private companies. State officials say such a long-term highway lease could bring in as much as $3.5 billion right away, more than covering the gap between the $4.3 billion needed to finish all the work in the state’s six-year road plan and the $1.6 billion that will be available. Such a lease would mean private investors would run and maintain the road for 50 or 99 years — and collect tolls that almost certainly would go up. …… The concept lets private companies build or expand highways in return for the right to collect tolls for 50 years or more and claim tax breaks on highway wear and tear. The concept has been used sparingly in the United States, and the results have been mixed.

Laffey privatization plan is history

Source: DANIEL BARBARISI, Providence Journal (RI), Wednesday, November 30, 2005

CRANSTON – Mayor Stephen P. Laffey’s attempt to privatize the city’s vehicle maintenance services officially died Monday night, when the City Council declined to take the issue out of committee. The fate of the mayor’s proposal had essentially been sealed last week, when the council’s Ordinance Committee, on which six of the nine members serve, voted unanimously to reject Laffey’s plan to hire Cincinnati-based First Vehicle Services to do the same work with 5 employees that 10 city workers, including 7 mechanics, perform on Cranston’s police and public works vehicles. ….. Arthur Jordan, business manager for Local 1322 of the Laborers International Union of North America, had declared that First Vehicle could not do the promised work with less staff and that there would be significant “hidden costs.”

U.S. city is first to join international trend; Chicago privatizes one of its existing toll roads.

Source: John Schmidt, American City & County, Oct 1, 2005

Earlier this year, Chicago sold the right to operate the Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge for the next 99 years for an up-front payment of $1.83 billion. The sale to Chicago-based Skyway Concession Co. is the first privatization of an existing toll road in the United States and is causing many state and local governments to take another look at their toll roads and other infrastructure assets. The Skyway generated $1.83 billion for Chicago during difficult financial times. ….. Indiana, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, California and Virginia are among a number of states now considering privatizing their toll roads.

Truckers to fight Iowa plan on liquor

Source: WILLIAM PETROSKI, Des Moines Register (IA), December 1, 2005

An Iowa trucking industry group intends to fight a plan to have state employees continue to haul alcoholic beverages to Iowa’s 480 liquor retailers. The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division announced this week that it will permit Crystal Distributing of Cedar Rapids to take over operations of the state’s liquor warehouse on Feb. 1, fulfilling a legislative request that private firms be permitted to compete for the work. But the state agency will still truck products to liquor stores because the agency submitted the lowest qualified bid to perform transportation services. ….. The combined private-public partnership should save Iowa taxpayers about $1.1 million annually when compared with the state’s payments to a previous contractor, Walding told the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission this week.