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U.S. committee hears testimony on public-private partnerships

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Protecting the public interest was expressed as a major concern by opponents of the privatizati...

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Protecting the public interest was expressed as a major concern by opponents of the privatization of U.S. public highways during a hearing before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Both the advantages and disadvantages of encouraging private investment in public infrastructure were examined.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has been leading a coalition of highway user groups against the sale or long-term lease of public highways and attended the hearing. OOIDA executive vice-president, Todd Spencer, commended both Democrats and Republicans for holding the hearing.

“But, there was a sense of discontent with DOT from lawmakers, the individual states and the highway user organizations,” he said. “They believe they were not included in the communications for these proposals and the model legislation. In my opinion, this isn’t exactly the yellow brick road supporters would like us to believe.

“After America’s motoring public paid federal and state taxes to build these roads, they are then sold to private investors to levy another form of tax increase on the American people. PPPs should mean, ‘Private companies Playing the Public.’ “

The Americans for a Strong National Highway Network was spear-headed by OOIDA with the support of the American Trucking Associations, AAA, American Highway Users Alliance, NATSO, American Motorcyclist Association and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.

A letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation was submitted last week spelling out why the coalition believes states should not lease or sell federal highways to private owners.

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