GAO report backs ATA views on public-private partnerships

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The American Trucking Associations today, Feb. 12, welcomed the Government Accountability Office’s just-released report on highway public-private partnerships, which predicts those finance schemes can create costly highway monopolies.

ATA says the report, warning motorists that there is no “free money” for highway infrastructure, confirmed its position that utilizing public-private partnerships to fund infrastructure ultimately can be more costly to the motoring public than traditional funding solutions and may not sufficiently consider the public good.

“Schemes such as the privatization and tolling of existing highway infrastructure will result in Americans paying a significantly higher price to access our highway system while receiving less in the form of safe, efficient and reliable roadways,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “It’s an important development to have the GAO acknowledge that such funding mechanisms are not in the best interest of the American taxpayers.”

In its report, GAO says any benefits of public-private partnerships come with trade-offs that overlook public interest and are costly to the public sector; for example, tolls on privately operated highways likely will be higher than on publicly operated toll roads. The GAO also criticized the limited efforts to systematically determine the public interest and to generate a cost-benefit analysis for each project.