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In public-private partnership, the public loses

The article “Investors sought for a new Cape Cod bridge” (Page A1, May 25) discusses the problem of too much traffic going to and from the Cape, and the proposed solution of a new, privately funded toll bridge at the Cape Cod Canal. I object to such public-private partnerships as being unfair to the public. There are other solutions to congested roads, such as my favorite — practical mass transit.

Hotel operator Bill Catania says, "People go, 'Let's go to New Hampshire instead — or Rhode Island,' " suggesting that congested traffic creates lost income for Cape businesses. If a toll-only bridge gets built, some of those who go to New Hampshire or Rhode Island will go to the Cape instead. They will pay their toll to get over the canal, and I'm fine with that.

But those people will get to the toll bridge on public roads. The toll payers will not have paid extra for the existence of, say, Route 3 southbound from Boston, but they will increase the traffic burden on that road. This disadvantages everyone who travels on Route 3 southbound. In economics, this is known as an externalized cost; profits would go to the bridge's investors, but they would not pay all of the costs. This is the practical flaw in all such public-private partnerships.


Bill Torcaso, Cambridge