Testimony on Public Private Partnerships by Mayor Maria Rodriguez, Village of Long Grove, to the Senate Appropriations Committee II
- By Guest Author
- July 20, 2006
On behalf of the Village of Long Grove I want to reiterate some of the concerns already voiced here today, such as:
- How will proceeds be spent?
- How will rates be established and regulated (if at all)?
- Who will control maintenance and expansion of the tollway in the future?
There are also some other, less obvious, issues to consider with a public-private partnership of this magnitude. This is similar, but not the same, as the Skyway lease or even the Indiana toll road lease. This is a much larger project through a highly developed area spanning many communities and counties.
From a citizen’s perspective:
- Who is liable for accidents due to poor maintenance or design?
- Who will patrol the tollway and receive revenues from violations? Will local police forces have to take on the task? Could they?
- What controls will be exercised regarding billboards and other signage?
- What processes will be available to individuals and municipalities to object to decisions or practices relating to the new owner of the tollway?
This final point is particularly concerning. If the refinancing of the tollway might result in the northern expansion of Highway 53, we need to consider the impact of that decision on the traffic problems across Lake County. It is important that the elected officials are the decision makers here. While some may claim consensus in Lake County , many residents are unaware of the potential ramifications. Along with the significant environmental concerns, in reality there is not adequate funding available, lease or no lease, to accomplish the necessary improvements to the existing roads let alone funding to construct a NEW TOLLROAD. We need to be prepared for the unintended consequences. As we have already witnessed, when tolls were most recently increased, many drivers chose to avoid the tollway and used local roads near the toll both. As a result, local county and state roads are experiencing INCREASED traffic congestion and wear and tear on what was already an overstressed system of roads that have not been improved to keep pace with the population growth in Northeast Illinois as a result of holding onto the failed idea that the extension of Rt. 53 is the silver bullet.
Although many of these concerns can be contractually addressed in a lease, there are fundamental policy decisions that underlie these issues. On behalf of Long Grove, we strongly oppose the sale or lease of the tollway for any reason.