I omitted from the original draft of the “Lessons from the Pocahontas Parkway Fiasco” one of the most important lessons learned. Having appended it to the original post, I reproduce it here for the benefit of those who might otherwise miss it:
Lesson No. 4: Public-private partnerships create transparency. As a publicly traded company, Transurban must use Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures and report material write-offs like the Pocahontas Parkway. There is no such accounting or accountability for non-tolled state projects, whose accounting is opaque and inaccessible to outsiders.
For purposes of comparison, consider Rt. 288, an untolled section of the Richmond metropolitan beltway built entirely with state dollars — including many tens of millions from the General Fund — just a few years later. Rt. 288, too, was touted for its “economic development” benefits. Has it lived up to expectations in light of the real estate crash? Do traffic counts meet projections? Is there even any way to measure the success or failure of the project? No, there is not. The public is left in total ignorance, decision makers are not held accountable, and critical questions never get asked.