After seeing many other states and nations successfully construct new toll roads and bridges through public-private partnerships (PPPs), North Carolina has finally decided to take that step and hop on the bandwagon. The N&O reports that NC has signed a preliminary agreement to have a private company build a new toll bridge to the outer banks.
A wise choice. Civitas has often advocated NC explore this possibility.
But one thing in the article really jumped out at me. This quote from NC Turnpike Authority executive director David Joyner:
save money and save time," said David Joyner, the turnpike authority's
executive director. "It's a proven model in other countries. This is a
way to get our toe in the water to explore this concept."
If the private sector knows how to do these things quicker, cheaper and more efficiently, why are we not building ALL toll roads this way?
PPP's should be further explored as a way for NC to build new infrastructure capacity. It allows each project to be deemed worthy on a cost-benefit basis, it gets new roads built, and it relieves the taxpayers from constantly being on the hook for funding new projects (taxpayers are committing $25 million per year to the yet to be built Triangle Expressway).
HOV or HOT lanes could be added to I-95, I-40, I-85 or I-77 this way (as Virginia is doing with the I-495 Capitol Beltway). New bypasses and toll roads could all be built, run and maintained by private companies, freeing the state to use existing resources on maintaining our crumbling infrastructure.
All in all, a step in the right direction for the often maligned NC DOT.