America's Toll Roads Heritage: The Achievements of Private Initiative in the 19th Century

Scandinavian Economics Working Paper No. 30

40 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2004

See all articles by Daniel B. Klein

Daniel B. Klein

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

John Majewski

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 29, 2003

Abstract

Private toll roads shaped and accommodated trade and migration routes, leaving social and political imprints on the communities that debated and supported them. Private road building came and went in waves throughout the 19th century and across the country. All told, between 2,500 and 3,200 companies successfully financed, built, and operated their toll road. Although most of these roads operated for only a fraction of the 100+ period, the combined mileage of private toll roads that operated at any point in time would be in range of 30,000 to 52,000 miles. The paper explores the character, methods, and purposes of the private toll roads, and draws lessons for the privatization of highways today.

Keywords: Toll roads, turnpikes, plank roads, privatization, free riding, regulation

JEL Classification: N71, N91, L92

Suggested Citation

Klein, Daniel B. and Majewski, John, America's Toll Roads Heritage: The Achievements of Private Initiative in the 19th Century (December 29, 2003). Scandinavian Economics Working Paper No. 30, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=487676 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.487676

Daniel B. Klein (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://economics.gmu.edu/people/dklein

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

John Majewski

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics ( email )

2127 North Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

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