This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
In 2001, State House Speaker Frank Chopp beat back efforts to privatize new Tacoma Narrows Bridge, as Knute Berger recently recounted in Crosscut. Chop claims that the decision will save us $1.2 billion. Privatizing is in vogue, Berger notes, because it provides a dedicated revenue stream (and an effective monopoly) to the companies that manage the roads.
Today we learn that the $3 bridge toll is going farther than expected, allowing us to make all sorts of road investments in the area, including tow trucks to help with rush-hour breakdowns and state troopers to enforce the tolls and other laws.
Some folks, like Rep. Pat Lantz, are dismayed what they see as too broad a use of the public’s money. But it’s important to keep in mind, that if we’d privatized the bridge, all that cash would be going to shareholder profits halfway around the world. Instead it’s being used right here at the source, to help make the commute easier. Which is what it was intended for.