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SQUEEKY2's avatar

Should a for profit private company be in charge of highway mantainence?

Asked by SQUEEKY2 (3726 points ) December 27th, 2013

I don’t have a problem privatizing highway construction, but feel maintenance should be left in the hands of the government, heck if they want to waste my tax dollars by spreading another load of salt or sand go right ahead, where a private company if they can get away with not putting that load out there they will, what’s your opinion?

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22 Answers

rojo's avatar

My opinion is no. I think that we as a society owe it to ourselves and should take care of it.

Let me tell you about a personal experience concerning government vs private enterprise. A storm drain broke in the back yard of a rental property. When the same thing happened several years ago the city was out there within the week and had it repaired in two. THIS TIME they sent someone out to look at it, then went back and had to get bids but to get bids they had to provide engineered approved drawings, put it out for bid, receive the bids several weeks later, tabulate the bids, write contracts, have contracts signed, get bonding and insurance information from the winning bid and here it is 140 days later and I still have not had it repaired. To be fair, after 125 days I bitched enough for them to send out someone to put a bag of sac

jerv's avatar

~Privatize everything.

ragingloli's avatar

Who would pay that company? Get ready of extraorbitant road fees.

rojo's avatar

Sorry computer glitch.

They put an unopened bag of sacrete over the hole, poured another around it then backfilled the hole as temporary fix until they can get the damn thing repaired. One of these days.

My experience says that privatizing those things that are for the benefit of the entire society does nothing to help society as a whole, only helps the bottom line of a select few and is a lot more inefficient..

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@jerv Sorry when it comes to road mantainence I have seen both the private ,and the government side, and will take the government side every time.

ragingloli's avatar

the ~ means sarcasm

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@ragingloli private contractors have to submit bids for the section of road they want to look after and the low bid takes it,but they also do a very poor job,hence trying to keep their costs down and making their bottom line better,who cares about the publics safety.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Privatization could work better if the assignment was per year, rather than per job. Companies should bid for a long term contract. Average the maintenance costs over the past decade, and cap any winning company to within 10% of the average.

Pronounce a private citizen watchdog group to monitor performance, quality, and response over the year. Grade the company and make all bids open to public for voting, not a closed City Council award.

Nothing wrong with privatization as long as it’s approached fairly.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies where for everything but highway mantainence I would agree with you, but over the years I have seen these contractors do a very poor job over the years at mantaining the roads,and they seem to be getting away with it,and that is scary, leave the mantainence part in the hands of the government, you can privatize everything else as far as I care.

jerv's avatar

~But privatization will make the roads perfect, boost the economy, end poverty, and cure cancer.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies In theory, yes. The issues with privatization come in when theory difference from reality… which is generally about 90% of the time. And I don’t think open voting would help as that would require an informed voter pool, which is something we really haven’t had in years.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

It sickens me that we live in an age where all the technology exists (in abundance) to allow informed public voting beyond any time history past.

Post all bids publicly, along with each company’s BBB record. Public voting could be as simple as a “like” button to sway the impressions of City Council board members.

The government should be there as little more than a public announcement system that also ensured rules and promises are honored.

jca's avatar

I agree with the OP. If a private company’s goal is to maximize profits, that’s going to mean less salt or less plowing to save on costs.

hearkat's avatar

“For Profit” companies should not be doing anything for Public access/consumption – they are beholden to their profit margin and not the greater good.

I’ve always felt that if jobs go to the lowest bidder, there should be a guarantee included in that job; such as if a company gets the contract to pave a road, they guarantee it for 10 years, and perform any and all needed repairs without any additional charge to the taxpayers.

ETpro's avatar

For Profit is anathema to For Public. Public works should always be just that. Where the expertise only exists in the private sector, then and only then should public works projects be put out for bids, and the public works agency responsible should still be project lead and QC.

filmfann's avatar

What if that private business runs the big semi trucks that reek havoc on our freeways? Why shouldn’t they be forced to pay for fixing the roads that their trucks ruin?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@filmfann May I ask what does your question have to do with mine?
And trucking companies do pay through the nose with fuel taxes and other charges to repair the roads they drive on,but would be nice if those said roads were properly maintained.

Lightlyseared's avatar

If they can get the job done better and cheaper than local government why not? I mean people let private, for profit companies look after their health.

jerv's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 The point was that those who wreck it should pay to rebuild it.

(Also, the big companies with many trucks pay nada; it’s the little companies that pay out the nose since they pay their share, the share the bigger companies pass on to them, and the subsidies to the bigger companies so that they remain too big to pay anything… but that is a separate rant)

Kropotkin's avatar

Privatisation here basically means that a few people who will never do any actual road maintenance work in their lives, will get to become very rich. Their “work” will be to negotiate extortionate contracts with local governments—costing everyone more.

Seek's avatar

I don’t have the option of choosing a different road maintained by a better company in order to get where I’m going, so no, I don’t think a private company should be in charge.

Other things I would argue should be publicly maintained for the same reasons: electricity, trash service, and internet service provision.

If I’m not allowed to choose my provider, there is none of the “vote with your wallet” aspect of capitalism.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m going to assume the OP is talking about our “free” interstate and other freeway systems in America. Some turnpikes and toll roads already are maintained or built by private companies. I don’t mind them trying to see how it works, but I guess I want the government to maintain some control over it. I would want an evaluation of how it costs us Joe public. If it is more efficient and economical done by the private sector or the public sector. I also am not saying I want tolls everywhere on every road. Some countries have a lot of partnerships between private and public for roads.

I will say that my little local road in front of my house, when a big bolt of lightening caused a huge part of my tree out front to fall across the road and block my driveway the city sent someone out within half an hour to clean it all up. Extremely efficient. But, that is not regular routine maintainence I guess.

@Lightlyseared Is that tongue and cheek? I am ok with trying the process with the road system, but I hate our health care system.

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