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Private Solutions for Reducing Road Congestion, Fuel Costs, Travel Time, and Waste
Based on the new book, STREET SMART: Competition, Entrepreneurship and the Future of Roads
Thursday, September 28, 2006


Washington D.C. Independent Institute Conference Center
1319 18th Street, N.W., Washington DC, 20036
Map and Directions

Congress has voted to finance Virginia’s proposed $4 billion 23-mile rail connection to Dulles International Airport, another wasteful "intermodal" transportation project which road users and other taxpayers are forced to finance, even though superior service with express buses could be provided at a third of the cost. And, the “Big Dig,” the $14.6 billion roadway disaster in Boston, is the latest in a long list of government highway debacles, says transportation expert Gabriel Roth. “There are many causes of waste and mismanagement,” says Roth, a Research Fellow with the Independent Institute who served for 20 years as a transportation economist with the World Bank. “The basic reason is that the provision of roads responds to the interests of politicians rather than the needs of road users.”

Earlier this year, former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced an initiative to relieve transportation congestion, with greater reliance on tolls and private sector investment. “Congestion is not a fact of life,” declared Mr. Mineta, “We need a new approach, and we need it now.” Such an approach is presented in the new Independent Institute book, Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship and the Future of Roads, edited by Gabriel Roth with a foreword by Mary Peters, who was nominated on September 5th to succeed Norman Mineta as Transportation Secretary. “The same market forces that took us from Ma Bell’s black, boxy, static, rotary dial telephone to today’s era of wide consumer choice can relieve congestion, operate roadways more efficiently, and improve the safety of our highways” declared Mary Peters in her foreword.

Street Smart explores the possibilities of increasing private sector involvement in the provision of roads. This is now practicable because modern technology enables customers to pay for road use easily, without tollbooths, and even without vehicles having to stop. What opportunities for road improvement can the private sector offer to road users? What might be the effects on present methods of highway financing? What might be the effects on transit services? Could traffic congestion be eliminated? These and other issues will be discussed by experts in highway planning, financing, and policy.

Ike Brannon Greg Cohen Thomas Downs D.J. Gribbin

Patrick Jones Daniel Klein Gabriel Roth Alexander Tabarrok

12:00 p.m: Registration and Light Lunch

1:00 p.m.: Opportunities Offered to Road Users by Private Sector Highway Financing and Operations:

Moderator: Alexander Tabarrok, Research Director, The Independent Institute
Gabriel Roth, Research Fellow, The Independent Institute; editor, Street Smart
Daniel Klein, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
Greg Cohen, President, American Highway Users Alliance
Patrick Jones, Executive Director, International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association

2:30 p.m.: Opportunities to Government Offered by Private Sector Highway Financing and Operations:

Moderator: Gabriel Roth, Research Fellow, The Independent Institute; editor, Street Smart
D.J. Gribbin, Division Director, Macquarie Holdings
James Ray, Chief Counsel, FHWA, U.S. Department of Transportation
Thomas Downs, President, Eno Foundation
Ike Brannon, Principal Economic Advisor, Office of Senator Orrin Hatch

4:00 p.m.: Adjournment

R.S.V.P.: Participation is without charge, but prior registration is requested. To register, please contact Ms. Nichelle Beardsley at The Independent Institute at 800-927-8733 or [email protected].

Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads

Street Smart, is informative, up-to-date, and a pleasure to read. If we are lucky, the book’s ideas and insights will also find their way into popular and political discourse in order to create real reform.”
Peter Gordon, Professor of Policy, Planning and Development, University of Southern California

“What a successful and important book Street Smart is. This is a book which makes plain the importance of a market economy in roads for the efficient allocation of scarce resources and the satisfaction of the user, worldwide.”
John Hibbs, OBE, Professor of Economics, University of Central England

“Roads are so critical to everything in society that many presume that they must necessarily be a governmental enterprise. Street Smart dispels that faulty impression with a careful examination of the past, present, and promising future of private roads.”
Damian J. Kulash, former President, Eno Transportation Foundation

Street Smart should help to develop thinking on the future of the road network and should be welcomed by road users in all countries.”
Edmund King, Executive Director, Royal Automobile Club Foundation

“Every public official—whatever their views—needs to read Street Smart to understand the depth of what is becoming a revolution.”
Roger Toleman, Deputy Secretary, New Zealand Ministry of Transport

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