June 3, 2008

UT: Toll-road plan has some cities steamed
TX: State to own all toll roads
NJ: Unions say privatizing prisons leads to escapes
PA: Bid to lease turnpike might shrink
PA: If managers goof up with turnpike, state can break lease
IN: Mayor wants to privatize Muncie fire department
CA: City to lease out golf course
IN: Gov. candidates on toll road

[click on ‘continued reading’ for articles]

News Summaries
UT: Toll-road plan has some cities steamed
The idea of tolling the Mountain View Corridor was dead, at least
that’s what Riverton Councilman Brad Markus thought. But it’s alive, he
and other city leaders learned, and remains very much an option for
funding the proposed west-side highway. So he and council members from
other Salt Lake Valley cities, fearful that their objections aren’t
being heard, are banding together and urging municipalities to pass
resolutions against the toll-road option."It’s a matter of fairness,"
West Valley City Councilwoman Carolynn Burt said. A state study found
the tolls would pay for about $1.1 billion of Mountain View’s $1.8
billion price tag. But council members worry about long-term costs.
They fear some residents may have to cough up $200 a month to use the
road. They also worry about fee-dodging commuters bypassing the highway
altogether, clogging up and wearing down other routes. The Salt Lake Tribune
TX: State to own all toll roads
The Texas Transportation Commission has adopted a toll road policy that
calls for all Texas highways to be owned by the state, even future
roads that might be built and operated by private developers. The new
policy also prohibits the imposition of tolls to existing highways,
except for new lanes that might be added to relieve traffic congestion.
If tolled lanes are added, the number of free lanes cannot be reduced.
All-new comprehensive development agreements will include provisions
that allow the Texas Department of Transportation to purchase the
interest of the private developer at any time "if buying back the
project would be in the best financial interest of the state," the TTC
said. "The commission’s action today reflects the comments we have
received from Texas drivers, legislators, and members of our citizen
advisory committees," said TTC chairwoman Deirdre Delisi. Delisi said
that the Trans-Texas Corridor implementation plan, which was issued in
June 2002, should be updated to reflect changes in the state’s
transportation challenges since then. The Trans Texas Corridor proposal
includes a toll highway that would parallel portions of Interstate
Highway 35, and a new interstate highway from Northeast Texas to the
Rio Grande Valley. The Bond Buyer ($)
NJ: Unions say privatizing prisons leads to escapes
When a halfway house resident was arrested in Bridgeton two weeks ago
for soliciting prostitution, some viewed it simply as odd news. State
corrections officers viewed it as a sign of a larger problem, that of
privatizing prisons, and Thursday they unleashed a radio campaign
hammering on just that. Press of Atlantic City
PA: Bid to lease turnpike might shrink
The $12.8 billion bid to operate the Pennsylvania Turnpike will shrink
if interest rates rise, the winning bidders said yesterday. The
provision is designed to protect the consortium from increased costs
for borrowing money, said Rob Collins, of Morgan Stanley & Co., the
administration’s financial adviser on the turnpike lease. He said
similar clauses were included in the leases of the Chicago Skyway and
the Indiana Toll Road.Gov. Rendell said he expects no legislative
action on the proposed lease of the turnpike until at least the fall.
The private consortium that Rendell wants to operate the turnpike also
said that any turnpike workers displaced by new technologies would be
retrained and given new jobs on the toll road. Philadelphia Inquirer
PA: If managers goof up with turnpike, state can break lease
State officials could bail out of a 75-year lease of the Turnpike —
and keep all the up-front money — if its private managers bungle
operations of the highway. But such a step could only follow an
exhaustive process that includes mediators and the courts, say the
Rendell administration and officials from the Spanish-American
consortium angling for control of the Turnpike. The administration is
seeking the Legislature’s consent to lease the highway. The Morning Call
IN: Mayor wants to privatize Muncie fire department
Mayor Sharon McShurley said she is considering privatizing fire
protection or utilizing volunteer firefighters to compensate for
expected shortfalls in property tax revenues. McShurley did not offer
many details about how privatized fire protection worked or how many
other cities contract out fire services. The Star Press
CA: City to lease out golf course
The city of Salinas plans to turn over all operations at Fairways Golf
Course to a private firm, a move officials say will eventually save the
city millions of dollars. Although Sierra Golf won’t immediately increase
prices at Fairways, fees will eventually climb as the company makes
capital improvements to the course, said Jeff Christensen, the company’s
president and chief executive officer. On Monday, some of the course’s longtime
regulars expressed mixed emotions over Salinas Fairways’ privatized future.
"A lot of retired people play out here," said Phil Nelson, a retired Salinas
resident. "If they raise the rates, the chances of continuing are very slim
because of their fixed incomes." The Salinas Californian
IN: Gov. candidates on toll road
Challenger Jill Long Thompson and other Democrats have blasted the Toll
Road lease and other privatization deals. Gov. Daniels says rolling
back those deals would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,
and says Democratic hostility toward the word "private" sums up the
difference between the parties. WIBC-FM