Why You Won't Own Your Road

05.16.2013
National Journal

Nossaman Partner Simon Santiago was quoted in the National Journal article "Why You Won't Own Your Road" regarding the Virginia Transportation Department's Public-Private Partnerships program.  The article focuses on the fact that state governments are increasingly looking for help from the business world due to the decrease in federal investments in public services.  Officials are looking for creative ways to attract private investors to develop roads, tunnels, and government land because they see no other options.

The article points out that tolling is the most common characteristic of public-private transportation agreements because it is the private sector's way of collecting payment for its work.  However, the practice is sometimes unpopular with the public who doesn't want to pay the high tolls.  Experts disagree with this complaint, arguing that the benefits of the deal aren't apparent to the people who are actually paying the tolls.  Mr. Santiago noted that the average commuter doesn't see that Virginia taxpayers, for example, no longer have to assume the "revenue risk" that comes from unpredictable traffic patterns.  He explained that transferring the risk to the private sector gives state officials the ability to "keep public contributions at their lowest" and private companies have incentive to "keep tolls at their lowest" to attract customers.

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