Are there privately owned highways in the US?

Are the toll higways that are relatively common in the US owned privately or publicly?

Near where I live (the GTA Ontario) there is a private toll route, the 407 ETR. I am wondering how common this is. Thanks.

The Chicago Skyway is privatley owned.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal the other day about Macquarie bank in Australia that leased (not purchased) the Skyway from Chicago. They are also acquiring toll roads and other infrastructure projects around the US and the world. Apparently, due to mandatory retirement savings plans in Australia, the banks are awash in cash and looking for places to invest it.

The Dulles Greenway, which continues from the Dulles Toll Road (VA 267) past the airport area to Leesburg, VA, is a 14-mile toll road which is privately owned. When it was dedicated, it had been almost 180 years since there’d been a privately owned toll road in Virginia.

When it opened, IIRC, it was a bit of a shock to the people of the Northern Virginia/DC area. “Pay more than twice the rate than the public toll road to continue to Leesburg? Who’ll do that?”

Well, it turns out thousands of people. The DG spurred accelerated growth in Loudoun Co., VA. There are thousands of new homes built and being built within a couple of miles of the DG.

I myself used it quite often when returning to my office just north of Dulles Airport. I could’ve paid 35 cents to exit the public toll road, then fight through up to 20 minutes of traffic to go the last mile to my office. Or, I could pay $1.50, exit at the first exit on the DG, then double back a bit and be at the office in 3 minutes. No contest, especially since my employer was paying the bill on my SmartTrip transponder. :D:D

I’m pretty that AWB’s tollway in DC is owned or leased by the same company that holds the Chicago Skyway, the one in the WSJ article. The article is available online, but only if you have a subsription. It was in the Dec. 6 issue (front page IIRC). Don’t know if it’s the same outfit in Onatario but I wouldn’t be surprised. They are also buying up airports, bridges, port terminals, etc.

Ok, so there are others like the 407. Now comes the 2nd part of my question.

Who is responsible for such things as snow removal on these highways? I know, from… well this exact question I had asked earlier and got little response from, that it appears the 407 pays for cops to patrol the highway. This leads me to believe they may pay for snow removal as well. Since both Chicago and DC get snow, anybody know who pays for its removal?

If it is the company that owns it, and you get in an accident and are hurt, if you could prove negligence (for example this morning I took the 407 to work, this was at about 830-9am I take it for about an hour, and it was still snow covered. It was no longer snowing. Not sure when it stopped, but it had stopped by 745am when I woke up. It was basically just 2 lanes with each lane having 2 tire track areas with heaps of snow in between), could you sue the company?

Thanks again.

According to the link in my first post, the Chicago Skyway is indeed privately owned but is operated by the City of Chicago. I doubt this type of arrangement is typical.

For one, the 407 streches through many different municipalities, so there is really no way one city operates it. As well, IIRC from my earlier question about this, the 407 is privately owned and operated.

No, it’s just the opposite. The Skyway is owned by the City of Chicago, but leased to a concession company owned by an Australian holding company. The concession company is responsible for operating and maintenance costs and in return retains the toll revenue.

Private toll roads were common in America in the early Nineteenth Century. With the coming of the railroad, the canal, and the steamboat, they lost their importance and in general their economic viability. When roads became important again after the invention of the automobile, the construction job was so massive, and Progressive Era hostility toward private control of public resources so pervasive, that the job was invariably managed by state and local governments (with federal cash assistance after the 1920’s).

In recent decades we’ve seen a trend back toward privatization, which has made some modest inroads in the highway business. It can involve government contracting out operations on an existing road, like the Skyway, or allowing new roads to be privately financed from scratch, like the Dulles Greenway.

Queuing raises a good question about liability–I imagine the ordinances which allow for private toll roads must place some limits on liability, and even so I’m sure the insurance is expensive. But I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of this.

Side issue, if the state wants to take your land for a public road, could you just biuld the road yourself and charge a toll?

Get yourself a roadmap of Maine, and check out the gray lines that penetrate into the northern wilderness. These are privately-owned highways built by lumber companies that are open to the public. According to the map I’m looking at right now, however, a permit and fee are required for passage.

While it’s not a big toll road, I live in an area that all the roads are private. The law can’t even come in just to patrol.

They have to be called.

Of course we don’t get the perks publics roads do. Snow scraping and all.