Excerpts from CL:
Road privatization is a cause celebre for free-market idealists who argue everything government can do, private enterprise can do better. Private roads have long been common in Asia and Europe, and are gaining traction in the United States.
In such a deal, a private company pays the state – sometimes billions of dollars – to take control of an existing road or to build a new one in a congested area. The company agrees to maintain the road, often for as long as 99 years. In exchange, it reaps the revenue from drivers, and in many cases, sets the tolls.
The fine print of privatization contracts usually includes noncompete clauses, dictating for example that a government can't build another road or transit system nearby to compete with the toll road. Georgia Motor Trucking Association lobbyist Ed Crowell says some lawyers in Indiana have opined that merely resurfacing a nearby road could be considered "competition."
And with Georgia's newfound focus on rail projects – the "Brain Train" commuter rail, the Beltline, a high-speed line to Chattanooga – the state could find itself in a similar spot to Indiana's should it not vet the contract.