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Friday, January 18, 2008

Turnpike's defenders go on offense

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story on how the beneficiaries defenders of the Turnpike Commission are stalling, claiming that Turnpike Tolls would be much higher under a private lease, and planning to commission a taxpayer-funded "study" of a turnpike lease.

That argument is bunk, as Chuck Ardo notes:

[Turnpike Commission CEO] Brimmeier understandably "would want to protect the agency where he is executive director," said Chuck Ardo, Rendell's spokesman. "However, there is no reason to believe tolls would be significantly higher under private management than they would be under the commission's oversight."
Here is some good advice for lawmakers:

1) Instead of spending taxpayer's money on a new study, why not READ our study of P3s (produced at no cost to taxpayers) or Reason's FAQ on Toll Roads and Response to Critics of a Turnpike Lease? Also on the reading list should be the Morgan Stanley report which already did compare revenues and tolls under both a Turnpike Lease and Act 44. Maybe take a look at the Citigroup analysis of revenue commissioned by the Turnpike Commission used to support Act 44 (I am being sarcastic on this one, the Turnpike Commission's Act 44 proposal recommends reading the Citigroup analysis, but they won't let anyone see it.)

If you don't have time to read these reports, here is a chart that sums it all up.

2) Turnpike toll caps would be set by a lease agreement and accepted by legislators. In other words, Reps. Markosek and McCall, YOU DECIDE how high tolls would rise under a Turnpike lease.

3) If Act 44 is such a better option, why not let the Turnpike Commission bid against private companies? The way to find out the best offer -most revenue and lowest tolls - would be to collect competitive bids. If Brimmeier is so confident the Turnpike Commission's plan is best, then there is no doubt they would win in a competitive bid.

Of course, there is a reason why Brimmeier and lawmakers with a hand in the Turnpike Commission's cookie jar are working to prevent competitive bidding - their plan (Act 44) is rotten.

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