By Cathrina Barros : calmatters – exccerpt
The start of a new legislative session inevitably brings calls from industry for lawmakers to authorize privatizing state highway projects through so-called “public-private partnerships.”
That would be a mistake.
Proponents claim multiple benefits such as cost savings and efficiency. But they fail to mention that previous highway projects in our state built with the same scheme they seek have not delivered as promised.
In fact, they are marked by taxpayer bailouts, cost overruns and bankruptcies.
Let’s take a look at the record…
People who want to hand public highway projects over to private interests claim that cost overruns are the responsibility of the developer, not taxpayers.
On a local level, SFMTA and their enterprise partners have taken over large swaths of public space in various public/private enterprises that are hard to pin down. It is extremely difficult for the public to access information on the financial details of these agreements, though many attempts have been made. Ask the taxi drivers how their medallion investments have turned out or the firm that financed them. What we end up with is privatization of public property. Rarely does the enterprise benefit the public. If anything, the public/private enterprises become an easy way to hide disbursement of funds from the public.
It appears that Governor Newsom is giving up on the largest boondoggle in recent memory that was supposed to be a public/private enterprise but never caught the imagination of any big money investors. He is suspending High Speed Rail, limiting it to the area that has already been built. Putting the rest of the project on ice. It seems that no one really expects that train to bring in the billions it will take to break even.