The benefits of privatizing

Pennsylvania turnpike to generate revenue for road repairs

When Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell announced that he might be looking to lease out the state’s turnpike to a private source, the idea of a giant corporation raising tolls came to mind.

However, Rendell’s proposal would ultimately lead to more funds, anywhere from $3 billion to $30 billion according to the turnpike’s estimated value, for the state to repair roads and build up the transportation system throughout Pennsylvania. The money for these repairs would come from the lease money that the private company pays to the state. In turn, the private company would still charge a toll to access the road and use the money from the tolls to maintain repairs on the turnpike. Because the road would be leased instead of owned by the private company, the state’s Department of Transportation would still retain authority over some road repairs and regulations.

According to an earlier report from the Rendell administration, Pennsylvania currently needs $1.7 billion annually, to maintain its roads, bridges, and public transportation system. The proposal to privatize the turnpike was one of many options that the state considered for the purpose of gathering the badly needed funds. These options include a 12.5-cent-per-gallon increase of the gasoline tax and raising the cost of registration and driver’s licenses. Compared to an approximate 40 percent increase of the current gasoline tax, privatization of the turnpike would cause minimal negative effects on the average resident.

A privately run turnpike would make the quality of commuting better for everyone in the state. The diverted funds can be used to repair state roads in need, as well as divert funds to the state’s problematic public transportation system.

That means that students, even those who don’t ever use the turnpike, are affected by this, too. Student drivers will be able to enjoy improved roads in and around Pittsburgh. Giving the PAT more money to keep public transportation functioning will help students who depend on Pittsbrugh’s buses.