Cintra was selected today to operate State Hwy 121 and collect toll profits for the next 50 years. This will mark the second time in US history that a public highway, originally intended to be a freeway, is privatized and tolled for corporate profit.
The first public private partnership scheme for Hwy 91 in California cost taxpayers hundreds of millions more, not counting the high cost of tolls. A non-compete clause kept the state from increasing highway capacity on nearby roads. The state had to spend more tax payer dollars to buy back the toll roads for $207.5 million.
Right-of-way and a portion of the main lanes already built with public money will go to Cintra as a corporate subsidy. TxDot denies it was a freeway project “converted” to a toll road, because technically it was never open as a freeway, but we've paid well over $700 million plus the cost of right of way. Gov. Rick Perry announce the plan in North Texas just hours ago.
Perry's Transportation Advisor and lobbyist, Dan Shelly was rehired by Cintra in 2006. Cintra is also the majority partner in Cintra Zachry, which is planning the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor. Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte SA will pay $2.1 billion for the rights to operate the very lucrative toll project through 2057, most probably with profits close to $100 Billion. THERE WILL BE NO TOLL RATE CONTROLS FOR 121...CINTRA WILL RAISE THE PRICE AS HIGH AS THEY’D LIKE OVER THE NEXT 50 YEARS.
From the Houston Chronicle/AP:
"The advantage is roads will be built sooner," (Sen.) Carona said. "What you won't hear about is toll rates will be raised unlike anything we have seen today."
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, who pushed the 2003 bill that helped set up the toll road initiative, said he was "asleep or not smart enough" to recognize potential problems.
"We are giving away a public asset and don't have much say about it for 50 years," said Ogden, R-Bryan.