Report: 21st Century TransportationGovernment Transparency

Six Public Interest Principles for Considering Private Toll Roads in Texas

Released by: TexPIRG

Plans for the state of Texas to sign concession deals for privately operated toll roads present a number of dangers for the public interest. Giving long-term control of our roads to a private operator and granting them future toll revenues is a huge commitment that should not be taken lightly. There has been major controversy over this road deal, and over the initial exclusion of the public tollway authority from submitting its own competing bid.

Regardless of whether a deal is with a public or private operator, no concession should be approved that fails to uphold any of six basic principles:

    • Public control
    • Fair value
    • No deal longer than 30 years
    • State-of-the-art safety and maintenance standards
    • Complete transparency and accountability
    • No budget gimmicks

The Governor’s proposal for private toll roads violates these principles. For that reason, TexPIRG supports the two-year moratorium on private deals. It may be important for these roads to be built, but that question should be separated from whether the public should rush into a long-term risky deal.

In the future there will likely be discussion of other possible deals with private or public entities. These six principles should guide consideration of any future concessions.

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