Infrastructure privatizing plans slow down

Oct. 28, 2009 at 7:49 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Once-booming plans by local and state governments to privatize U.S. infrastructure have foundered in the recession, analysts say.

When the city of Chicago leased its seven-mile Skyway toll road for $1.8 billion in 2003, and Indiana did the same for the 157-mile Indiana toll road for $3.8 billion three years later, it seemed such moves were becoming a trend. But industry observers say tight credit is preventing new investors from stepping up and has left taxpayers on the hook to repair crumbling infrastructure, USA Today reported Wednesday

"Investors are skeptical. These are difficult times," Peter Samuel, editor of Toll Road News, told the newspaper, adding that the buyers of the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road "have lost their shirts."

That buyer, Macquarie Infrastructure Group, says the two roads have lost one-third of their value. The governments that leased them, meanwhile, got paid in cash, USA Today said.

Since then, however, similar deals have fallen through. For instance, a $2.5 billion agreement to sell Chicago's Midway Airport fell apart in June, and an investor group withdrew a $12.8 billion offer to buy the 537-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike in September.

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