As they say, as goes California, so goes the nation. The News Review reports:
It slipped under the public’s radar, but a couple of years ago, Caltrans formed a unique contract that effectively privatized a major Northern California roadway traversed by millions annually. Now, more privatized highway projects might be approved over the next several years as major financial corporations and lobbying groups eye California as a potentially lucrative market for infrastructure, especially highways.
These so-called public-private partnerships, or P3s, are a multibillion-dollar global business. One Swedish corporation has called the United States the “trillion-dollar opportunity” for privatized highways and other public infrastructure.
Critics and union groups, meanwhile, argue that Californians should be wary of privatization of their roads. They remind that the reason California got rid of its P3 laws the first time in 2004 was because of bankruptcies and messy contractual clauses that suggested privatization might not be in the public’s best interest.
Kome Ajise, Caltrans’ program manager for public-private partnerships, says there are at least four major highway projects in California that may soon be transferred over to private companies for finance, construction and operations, likely using availability payments.