Political Contributions Buy The Right To Toll Tax Drivers

New Virginia Toll Lanes Designed to Create Congestion
Illegal political donations helped give Australian company full control over Virginia transportation until the year 2087.

Illegal political contributions helped an Australian firm land a lucrative toll road deal that grants the company unprecedented power over Northern Virginia's transportation future. Last week, Transurban wrote and asked state lawmakers to return checks that the Melbourne-based toll road operator had written in violation of federal campaign laws. But the deal these contributions helped bring about has already been finalized.

In June, the US Department of Transportation created a first-of-its-kind $1.6 billion financing package that consisted of tax-free bonds, loans and state taxpayer grants to support the project that will add a pair of High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes to the Interstate 495 Capital Beltway just outside of Washington, DC. To this amount, Transurban only added $349 million of its own capital -- less than the cost of interest -- toward the construction of the toll lanes.

In return for that small investment, Transurban received from Virginia officials the right to demand payment from state taxpayers any time that improvements are made to a number of free roads near the Beltway. In effect, the contract between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Transurban is designed to ensure the area remains sufficiently congested so that motorists will have an incentive to pay to use the toll lanes.

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Anonymous said...

Where can I get a deal like this, screwing my customers daily?

Anonymous said...

U.S./state government employees (elected and appointed) responsible for implementing such reprehensible deals need to be held accountable -- face litigation and forfeit self-serving direct and subterfuged profiteering that includes "bribes (a.k.a.political contributions)" from private entities. Names need to be identified so some such as the ACLU will sue them for personal accountability. Voters need to remove culprits from office so trust may be restored in U.S. representative government -- currently it's inudated with amoral self-serving parasites, e.g. Mike Heilingenstein, et alii.