Some new toll roads could be privately owned, according to a recent Reuters report. A provision of the recent highway spending bill would allow private companies to raise up to $15 billion for highway projects with bonds that are exempt from federal income taxes. The tax-exempt status would keep interest rates and funding costs low for private companies to build toll roads. Lawmakers say the provision is expected to pass the Senate and House conference committee. The provision would help Cintra, a Spanish company, raise funds to finance such projects as a proposed $7.2 billion toll road from Dallas to San Antonio. The plan, part of the Trans-Texas Corridor project, could eventually run from Oklahoma to Mexico. It would include freight and passenger railroads, pipelines and power lines on a 1,200-foot right of way, according to the Reuters report. Critics say the plan would split landholdings and draw business away from towns along the corridor. Others say private companies are not necessarily more efficient at running roads than the government is. But Texas state transportation officials like the idea of a private enterprise raising $7 billion without help from the government. Many fiscally strapped states have already given corporations the right to build, operate and maintain roads. States have the right to set toll rates or limit profits but generally give operators wide latitude to run the roads as they see fit. Texas, California and Virginia are among the states at the forefront of the movement, according to the report.
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