Texas-sized Toll Roads

The nation watches as Texas’ transportation plan develops:

Called the Trans-Texas Corridor, it is the most ambitious highway project since the Eisenhower administration introduced the interstate system in the 1950s. The $184 billion, 50-year plan calls for building 4,000 miles of roadways up to a quarter-mile wide. Each corridor would contain six high-speed toll lanes for cars and trucks; six rail lines and easements for petroleum, natural gas and water pipelines, as well as electric, broadband and other telecommunications lines … The price would be minimal to taxpayers, say state officials, who are seeking private companies to finance, develop, build and maintain the corridor in exchange for the right to charge tolls for half a century … The project’s reliance on tolls would mean a significant shift in how road construction is paid for and might not easily translate to such states as Ohio, Washington and Indiana that recently decided a gasoline tax increase to pay for highway construction was more palatable than creating more toll roads.

Using private financing for transportation megaprojects is big news in the U.S., but not so big new in nations like France and Australia where they’re more used to this kind of thing. Also, California recently signaled its support for privately financed toll roads.