UK looks at private control of highways
LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron outlined proposals Monday for putting private companies in charge of the country's roads in a bid to attract investment and heal public finances.
Cameron told the Institution of Civil Engineers that the government cannot afford to improve the road system without money from the private sector and that gridlock on some routes is hampering economic recovery.
"We need to look urgently at the options for getting large-scale private investment into the national roads network - from sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and other investors," he said.
Cameron has asked officials to draw up plans to shake up how roads are built and maintained.
Officials envision granting long-term leases to private operators. Government revenues now devoted to highway construction and maintenance would be channeled to the private companies, and tolls would be allowed only on new highways.
Cameron said he would also look at ways to improve Britain's rail networks, broadband speeds and energy providers.
Under previous conservative governments, Britain put the rail system and the water and sewage utilities in private hands.
Opposition Labour Party legislator Maria Eagle criticized the latest proposal on roads, saying the government would do better to recognize that it has cut investment in infrastructure too deeply and too fast.
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