Paul Nussbaum
Philly.com
May 20, 2008

A Spanish toll-road operator won the bidding war to operate the Pennsylvania Turnpike, offering $12.8 billion for a 75-year lease, Gov. Rendell said today.

The proposal by Abertis Infraestructuras, of Barcelona, must be approved by the Pennsylvania legislature, and legislative leaders in Harrisburg have said the plan faces tough sledding with lawmakers.

In making the largest bid ever for the private operation of a U.S. toll road, Abertis partnered with a subsidiary of U.S. investment bank Citigroup, and Spanish investment firm Criteria CaixaCorp.

Abertis operates toll roads in Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Argentina and Puerto Rico. The company also operates airports, telecommunications systems and parking garages.

Under Rendell’s plan, the Abertis/Citi consortium would lease the turnpike for 75 years with the right to raise tolls 25 percent next year and 2.5 percent or the rate of inflation every year after that.

Rendell called the lease plan “a very good deal for Pennsylvania drivers and taxpayers,” and he said it would mean about $1.1 billion per year for road, bridge and transit projects in the state, on average, over the next 10 years.

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