April 10, 2013


Study Documents Optimism Bias In Toll Road Traffic Forecasts. Toll roads around the world are struggling. Moody’s Investment Services on March 21 warned of a possible downgrade of the SH130 toll road in Austin, Texas because the 50 percent fewer people used the road than projected. In Virginia, the newly opened 495 high occupancy toll lanes have continued to disappoint officials. None of this is surprising according to a Virginia group, the Reston Citizens Association, which earlier this year released an extensive study of the problems inherent in toll road forecasting. A review of 104 toll roads around the world showed toll roads suffered from “optimism bias” that results in traffic forecasts being inflated by 25 to 30 percent, on average. The problem is more acute in the United States, where twenty-six toll roads reported 109 percent inflation in their forecasts, according to a National Highway Cooperative Research Program review. TheNewspaper.com

Thatcher’s Privatizations Cast a Long Shadow. Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday, reshaped modern Britain by selling state-owned companies into private hands, paving the way for a spate of such dispositions around Europe and the world that continues, even here, three decades later. Wall Street Journal

PA: How a Bucks County GOP feud could affect liquor privatization. The bad blood is decades old, personal and could affect Gov. Tom Corbett’s attempt to privatize the state liquor system. PennLive.com

PA: Why is the Pa. Convention Center a privatization target? Is it because Gov. Corbett advocates privatizing government services and wants a win now that his plans to farm out the state lottery and State Stores have slowed? “I didn’t feel pressure from the commonwealth to do this,” Gregory J. Fox, the Philadelphia lawyer who chairs the center’s board, said. Sure, Corbett’s deputy chief of staff, Kathleen Bruder, represents the state at board meetings. Is it because the would-be private managers are politically connected? Philly.com

NC: GOP called privatizing Commerce “incredibly dumb and dangerous” when Democrats proposed it. Republican Gov. Jim Martin once called the replacement of the Department of Commerce with a public-private partnership “an incredibly dumb and dangerous idea.” That was back in 1988 when Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Jordan, his opponent in the governor’s race proposed something very similar to what GOP Gov. Pat McCrory is now recommending. At a rally on top of a downtown Charlotte parking deck, Jordan proposed creating a NC. Economic Development Corp which would be run by a panel of private citizens appointed by the governor. News and Observer

NC: $53M spent on N.C. toll roads ‘lost’. A total of $53.7 million in North Carolina taxpayer money has been spent on planning three toll roads that could be scrapped. Triangle Business Journal

 IL: Will Emanuel back privatization transparency measure?. Community and public interest groups are calling on Mayor Emanuel to support a privatization transparency ordinance that is expected to be considered by the City Council Rules Committee on Wednesday. The Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance, submitted last November by Alderman Roderick Sawyer (7th) and sponsored by 32 aldermen, would require a cost-effectiveness study and public hearings when the city seeks to contract out services and operations. Newstips

LA: Poll shows drop in Jindal’s favorability ratings. A statewide survey found that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s approval rating sank to 38 percent following recent state budget cuts, public hospital privatizations and a proposed rewriting of the state’s tax code. Pollsters with Southern Media and Opinion Research found “pessimism over the state’s direction” among voters, findings that a separate, unrelated poll by LSU also tracked. The Advocate

MD: Maryland has passed measure to facilitate public-private partnerships. The legislation creates a streamlined process for the private sector to take part in building public roads or buildings, so participants would have a better understanding of what to expect. State estimates have projected additional public-private partnerships could contribute up to 6 to 10 percent of Maryland’s $3.1 billion annual capital budget and create as many as 4,000 new jobs. Washington Post