Who Needs a Consortium

To Pay for Toll Road Fixes?

Gullible -- that is what this consortium proposing fixes for the Dulles Toll Road ["Consortium Offers Toll Road Fixes," Prince William Extra, Aug. 7] must think. While the fixes offered by this group may be good ideas, their method of financing is not. Why is this consortium needed? What advantage does this consortium truly offer the public?

When the government needs money for large capital projects, the method of financing ordinarily is based on competitive processes. For example, the government often sells municipal bonds. Then the government spends such funds by having contractors compete for the opportunity to build roads, buildings, whatever. Such competition both saves the public money and allows innovation.

While this consortium's unsolicited offer has opened a 90-day window for other investors to make counteroffers, the scope of its proposal will make it difficult for another group to make a comparable offer. Thus, if we take this consortium's offer seriously, we have effectively allowed the consortium to edge the little guys out of competition. Why would we want to do that?

If we are going to pay public servants -- that is, VDOT -- to manage our roads, is there any good reason why VDOT cannot manage improvements on the Dulles Toll Road in a series of smaller projects?

The Dulles Toll Road offers up a huge revenue stream, one sufficient to get both politicians and corporate titans drooling. We need to be careful how we spend this money; let's not give it away for a few trinkets.

Richard T. Salmon