Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For sale: U.S. highways and bridges

Road blocked by landslide

The nation's roads are up for sale. But who should have control over them?

State and local governments are in desperate need of cash for all manner of road, building and bridge repair, and are increasingly turning to private money for funding.

But the involvement of private investors is raising concerns over how much control the public may lose over its roadways. Companies putting up the money include construction and engineering firms like Bechtel and Samsung, and big banks like Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch that aim to attract money from pension funds and insurance companies.

In exchange for the funding, the firms are getting an ownership stake in the projects. That means they'll get a cut of the tolls, and also be responsible for the maintenance. The arrangement has some people nervous. There is a fear that governments are losing some control of the roadways. If the maintenance doesn't get done, what recourse do they have to force the private firms to act? Read more >>

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