Today's Wall Street Journal contains sobering information about just how badly wrong toll-financed projects can go.
Here's the set-up:
Millions of motorists cross the Foley Beach Express toll bridge every year, many to hit Alabama's beaches. But traffic never reached the 10 million drivers that the bridge's investors were led to believe would be paying tolls in 2012. The result is a familiar scenario to global investors who wagered on U.S. toll roads in the years before the financial crisis—and have since seen many of those bets fail. The Beach Express bridge, in Orange Beach, Ala., served 2.3 million vehicles last year. Its owner, American Roads LLC, couldn't meet debt obligations and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this July.
Traffic predictions made before the recession still look too rosy, says Mr. Kennon, the [Orange Beach] mayor. "Everything back then was pie in the sky," he says. "Nothing was real."