The Corner

Re: On Infrastructure, Time to Dump the Ideology

Wendell Cox’s post is certainly an interesting one. I agree with him that the balance between transit and roads is misguided.

However, I feel I need to add to his comments something important concerning the role of the federal government in paying for roads and highway expansions. With very few exceptions, most roads, bridges, and even highways are local projects (at best, state projects) by nature. The federal government shouldn’t have anything to do with them.

In fact, I would argue that taxpayers and consumers would be better off if these activities were privatized. And if states aren’t ready for privatization, they can do what Indiana did a few years back when it leased its main highways to a private company for $4 billion. The state was $4 billion richer, and it was still the owner of the highway. Consumers in Indiana were better off, because the deal saved money. Experiences in other countries have also shown that privatization leads to innovation and reduced congestion. (I really like this paper by Randy O’Toole on these issues.)

Needless to say, I think Obama’s $50 billion plan is a bad idea.

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