1. Study: Gas-tax hike the way to go; researchers say that adding or increasing highway tolls will hurt the economy.
2. Public meetings starting on giant Texas highway project.
3. Study: Toll roads alone won’t pay for U.S. highway needs.
4. GOP gets behind turnpike lease.
5. Officials warn of toll increases on Mass. Pike.
6. Okla. legislators grapple with pros and cons of public, private prisons.
1. Study: Gas-tax hike the way to go; researchers say that adding or increasing highway tolls will hurt the economy. Privatization of toll roads would push truck traffic onto nearby roads, endangering motorists there and hurting the economy by slowing interstate freight movement, according to a new academic study and reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The authors of the analysis suggested that higher fuel taxes are better tools to raise money for states’ transportation needs. The study, presented Monday at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, comes as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states are considering higher road tolls or leasing toll roads to private operators.
2. Public meetings starting on giant Texas highway project. State transportation officials tried Tuesday night to ease fears of people in the projected path of a likely toll road through East Texas that could be part of a gigantic superhighway project criss-crossing much of the state, according to an article in the Houston Chronicle.
3. Study: Toll roads alone won’t pay for U.S. highway needs. A federal commission created by Congress called for big increases to the federal gas tax on Tuesday as part of a sweeping overhaul of how America builds and pays for its highways, bridges and transit systems, reports The Dallas Morning News. The study by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission proposes a 40-cent increase over five years. Among the key findings of the study is to encourage private toll roads, but with new limitations.
4. GOP gets behind turnpike lease. Penn. Gov. Ed Rendell’s push to privatize the Pennsylvania Turnpike, once on life support, is gaining significant momentum, according to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, the Senate’s top GOP leader, said Tuesday he is working on a "hybrid" lease plan that could generate billions of dollars for transportation needs. "I am going to lead this effort to find an alternative" transportation plan, said Scarnati, R-Jefferson County. Scarnati’s interest is a major shift in the political landscape. Just a year ago, Rendell, a Democrat, found few lawmakers interested in privatizing the turnpike. "It was DOA (dead on arrival)," said Jim Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling and Research in Harrisburg.
5. Officials warn of toll increases on Mass. Pike. More toll increases up and down the Massachusetts Turnpike look inevitable, two agency board members said yesterday after the authority warned that its fiscal woes will delay more than $65 million in necessary construction and maintenance work this year, according to an article in the Boston Globe.
6. Okla. legislators grapple with pros and cons of public, private prisons. The Journal Record has an article about an audit of Oklahomaâ€™s corrections system issued two weeks ago, which may help lawmakers settle a long-standing argument this year. Nonetheless, the auditâ€™s findings do not preclude lawmakers from continuing their argument during the 2008 session if they so choose. Some legislators favor expanding contracts with private prisons, while others advocate construction of new state-owned prisons. The consultants who prepared the audit agreed with both camps, recommending the state deal with its burgeoning prison population with a multifaceted approach.