Study: Why the Pennsylvania Turnpike Plan Failed

Study: Why the Pennsylvania Turnpike Plan Failed

The largest public-private partnership proposed in U.S. history collapsed last year because of a series of missteps by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and the General Assembly, according to a report released Tuesday, March 24.

Rendell and lawmakers did not resolve their differences over the proposal before the governor initiated bids, the report said. The governor was too optimistic about the return the state would earn on the investment and there was no detailed plan for how the money would be invested by the state. State officials also failed to consider the long-term effects of the project, according to the report by the Pew Center on the States. 

Rendell (D), looking for ways to finance transportation projects, led efforts to lease about 500 miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a private partnership for 75 years in exchange for $12.8 billion up front. The private consortium dropped its offer Sept. 30 because state lawmakers had not acted on it.

“Pennsylvania policy makers did a lot right in their first exploration of such a lease, but they fell short in key areas of how the deal was proposed, structured and handled,” said Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States (PCS), which analyzed the turnpike deal and interviewed a wide range of policymakers and transportation specialists. “If Pennsylvania and other states want to pursue successful public-private partnerships, more questions need to be asked—and answered.”

Read the related report Driven by Dollars (PDF).

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