Changing the Way We Fund Highways

In his latest column for Public Works Financing, Reason Foundation’s Robert Poole writes, “Twenty years ago, when some of us began seriously promoting long-term toll concessions as a better way to finance and manage limited-access U.S. highways, we had no idea how difficult the struggle would be. The early wave of enabling legislation-in Arizona, California, Minnesota, Virginia, and Washington State-led to only a handful of projects in what we can look back on as the false dawn of this new paradigm in the early 1990s. But the second wave that began with the long-term lease of the Chicago Skyway and the 50-year concession deal for the first Trans-Texas Corridor is much larger and more promising. Despite a populist reaction in Texas last year, and some hostile rhetoric from House transportation committee members last spring, states like Florida, Texas, and Virginia have moved forward with billion-dollar-scale greenfield toll projects-and the capital markets are crying for more. But as I wrote last month, the split on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission exposed the extent of the chasm that must be bridged if the toll concession paradigm is going to be accepted as more than a possibly helpful side-show in 21st-century highways.” Full Column Reason Foundation’s Transportation Research and Commentary