There’s Big Money–in Roads

Transurban Group, Australia’s second- biggest toll road owner, agreed to buy Virginia’s Pocahontas Parkway for $611 million, gaining its first U.S. highway.
Bloomberg had the story on line.

“The Melbourne-based Transurban bought the rights to manage, operate and maintain the 8.8 mile (14 kilometer) highway known as State Route 895 for 99 years, they said in a statement today. Transurban plans to link the route to Richmond Airport.

There are $25 billion of private investments proposed for new and existing toll roads in six U.S. states including Virginia, Texas and Oregon, according to a report last month by the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, which advocates for such privatization.

More U.S. states will sell roads as they seek to raise non- tax revenue to pay for repairs to heavily traveled highways and bridges, Merrill Lynch & Co. said in a report in March.

The firm said 14 U.S. states have enacted laws allowing for toll road, public-private transactions, and five more have introduced legislation permitting it.

Pocahontas Parkway opened in 2002. Last year it reported average daily traffic of 15,600 vehicles, 6 percent higher than in 2004. In 2005 the road had sales of about $11 million, a 22 percent increase on the previous year. Transurban forecast traffic will rise to more than 30,000 vehicles daily by 2012.