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).

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.