Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pike Privatization: Still a Bad Idea

Maybe if we're super-duper lucky, privatizing the 11 service plazas on the Pike could bring in $300 million up front. Seems rosy, but let's go with it. After all, if Christy Mihos says it, it must be true.

However, we're currently getting 6.2 million/year from Gulf and 11.6 million/year from McDonald's - to say nothing of the many other restaurants and convenience shops paying millions more. So, we've got to be getting more than $20 million/year from these plaza. How much more? No idea, but it's a safe estimate. If we're getting around $30 million/year, it'll only take a decade to bring in the rosy $300 million we'd get up front to give the plazas up forever. If it's closer to $20 million, it'll take a few more years, but still the point remains: we'll be losing money and lose a key revenue source that helps pay for the Pike. Plus, we lose the ability to help set up the parameters in which those facilities are run - making sure there's no gas price gauging because of Gulf's monopoly, etc.

Taking all that into consideration, doesn't it make more sense to deal with the Big Dig debt and need for our roads and bridges in other ways - like an increased gas tax? Otherwise, sure we may be okay for a few years, but we'll be in a much worse situation once that $300 million is spent, without revenue sources that are key to our transportation infrastructure. Short term thinking leaves long term problems in government. Enough of that.

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