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Private Investment in U.S. Transportation Infrastructure
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“This is the best and most insightful book yet on the role that private investment can and should play in transportation infrastructure. It addresses concerns and misconceptions about public-private partnerships using sound economic thinking and empirical data, a combination that is hard to beat.”
–Robert Poole, Director of Transportation Policy, Reason Foundation
“Dr. Geddes’ book, The Road to Renewal: Private Investment in U.S. Transportation Infrastructure, provides the best, most comprehensive resource to date about how we can attract private investment to help meet U.S. infrastructure needs. At this critical time, when traditional public sources of revenue are insufficient and unsustainable, this book is a must-read for those of us who seek to provide funding for America’s transportation system now and into the future.”
–Mary Peters, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation
“Rick Geddes’ book is a compelling argument for a new approach to road financing in America. It makes a powerful case for road service providers to charge directly for road use in the same way telephone or electricity or airline companies charge customers directly for use of their service. Road-use charges should be varied according to the scarcity of road space, the vehicle type. and costs imposed. Geddes argues persuasively that investment in infrastructure will be better directed and roads better managed with prices providing a direct link between road managers and motorists as customers. Our present system of funding through gasoline and diesel fuel taxes is fundamentally flawed, Geddes argues. He recommends road funding and management through toll collecting public private partnerships as a way to give America the top-quality, responsive, and well-funded road transportation system it needs. The book is timely given the public disgust with ‘porkbarrel roads’ and ‘bridges to nowhere.’ It lays out a new and hopeful way forward.”
–Peter Samuel, editor, TOLLROADSnews
The U.S. transportation system comprises approximately 3.9 million miles of public roads and highways, on which Americans drive over 3 trillion miles each year. Presently funded through a combination of fuel and vehicle taxes and government grants, this system is vital to the nation’s prosperity, directly affecting mobility, economic competitiveness, and quality of life, as well as the health of the environment. Yet, despite record levels of government spending, America’s transportation system is plagued by traffic congestion, decaying infrastructure, and politicization of transportation funding–leading to calamities such as the 2007 collapse of the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River, and political fiascos like Alaska’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.”
In The Road to Renewal: Private Investment in U.S. Transportation Infrastructure, R. Richard Geddes surveys the current state of the American transportation system and finds that, like the roads themselves, the existing policy approach is in desperate need of repair. Drawing on the basic economic principles behind supply, demand, competition, and incentives, Geddes argues that a shift toward increased use of public–private partnerships (PPPs)–contractual agreements between public agencies and private parties that allow private participation in the design, construction, operation, and delivery of transportation facilities–could significantly improve the quality of America’s transportation infrastructure.
By learning to see themselves as customers and investors–rather than mere users–of roads and highways, Americans should expect to receive a reasonable return on their investment: thorough, effective maintenance of America’s transportation infrastructure. The Road to Renewal shows how incorporating increased private participation can halt the deterioration of America’s transportation system and become the foundation for a safer, more efficient transportation future.
R. Richard Geddes is an adjunct scholar at AEI.
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