Thursday, July 20, 2017

Another Personal Observation On Privatized Highways

Last month I posted a personal observation on Trump's plan to privatize infrastructure, noting especially how in the long run privately owned turnpikes in Virginia ended up in government ownership.  In the comments on that post there was discussion of the Indiana Toll Road, privatized a few years ago.  I have just ridden on it (yesterday), and I shall recount as an anecdote datum my less than pleasant experience, bad enough to make me want to avoid it entirely in the future.

I was driving west on it from Ohio.  I stopped in one of the new service areas to get some pizza.  Fancy roof, but only two eating places, Lagrange in the east.  OK, but nothing great.  I would say road condition about same as Ohio's, but tolls higher, although not as high as in Illinois or Pennsylvania.  Anyway, I saw that I had enough gas to make it to the LaPorte service area in the western part of the state, so did not refill there or at the Elkhart one.  Nowhere did I see any signs or information about any problems with any of the upcoming service areas.

So, two miles before the LaPorte service area on the sign for it was draped a cloth saying the area was closed.  Indeed, when got there, it was torn up, presumably to build a new one like what I saw before, not that big of an improvement.  It was OK for trucks to park there, but no gas.I had 10 miles of gas left in my car. Got off at the next exit to go into  LaPorte to get gas.  There was a machine to take the payment, no attendants,, two machines actually.  One would not take my card. Managed to back out and go into the other one, which took my card, but would not take my credit card.  I did have  cash which it took, but there I am fiddling around while my gas is running low.  Had to go around a closed road to get to LaPorte.  Fortunately I got to a gas station with one mile of gas left in my tank.

On returning following the detours, could not reenter the Indiana Toll Road and had to go further to get onto I 94, but given my experience with it, I was not all that unhappy not to be on it.  Maybe this is just an odd case, but I have to say I was not impressed with how these private owners of the toll road are managing it, not at all an obvious improvement.

Of course, Trump has completely stalled out on doing anything about his infrastructure plan, with even his air traffic controller privatization plan sitting there doing nothing, although, of course, his proposed budget does cut actual ongoing infrastructure projects that will shut some of them down, mostly for non-auto transportation systems in urban areas like Pittsburgh.  When I continue to see commenators talking about how his infrastructure plan might stimulate the economy, I am not sure whether I should laugh or cry.

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...

Indiana's taxpayers demand highways, but don't like taxes. You get what you pay for. Also it occurs to me that State regs governing privatized roads have to be negotiated .... guess which side as the negotiating leverage in Indiana?

Reminds me of traveling through Switz, Austria, Germany three years ago in a rental car. The GPS showed every gas station service enroute on the highways (Bundesbahnen)along with services offered, and with one finger tap, it showed which non-gas services were open by times, along with main menus and prices. Switzerland uses tolls on the major free-way routes, Austria and Germany don't. I found no differences between info available on the GPS maps. Seems like they've standardized, even the non-EU nation get's on board.

What you are describing is public v private benefits.

Don Coffin said...

And you should see the mess involved in building the continuation of I69 from Indianapolis to Evansville...2 years behind schedule, 50% over the point that the state government threw out the private contractor and re-took control of the construction process.

You need some familiarity with Indiana state government to appreciate ho much of a mess the private construction firm had made of that project for our state government (mostly, at a management level, staffed by supporters of the current VP) to take such an action. said...


Since I know you live in Indiana, what is the current ownership of the Toll Road, please? I have heard in person and over on Angry Bear several different theories ranging from the state took it back through a private-public commission to some Australian private owner that bought it. I seem to be having trouble pinning this down. But, thanks for your input on this, old friend.

ProGrowthLiberal said...

This story may address ownership:

The original private owner goes bankrupt so a new private owner buys them out. said...

So, still owned by Auatralia's IFM, or some such?

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the time I went into a Wal-Mart. The place was horrible, with crappy products. Employees didn't give very good directions to where products were located in the store. It sucked.

Based on that one experience, it was clear that the government should run our stores!