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

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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.

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  • Klein, Daniel & Majewski, John, 2003. "America’s Toll Roads Heritage: The Achievements of Private Initiative in the 19th Century," Ratio Working Papers 30, The Ratio Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0030
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gerald Gunderson, 1989. "Privatization and the 19th-Century Turnpike," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 9(1), pages 191-200, Spring/Su.
    2. Majewski, John & Baer, Christopher & Klein, Daniel B., 1993. "Responding to Relative Decline: The Plank Road Boom of Antebellum New York," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(01), pages 106-122, March.
    3. Kein, Daniel B. & Majewski, John, 1994. "Plank Road Fever in Antebellum America: New York State Origins," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt034182mk, University of California Transportation Center.
    4. Bodenhorn,Howard, 2000. "A History of Banking in Antebellum America," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521669993.
    5. Klein, Daniel & Majewski, John, 1991. "Economy, Community and Law: The Turnpike Movement in New York, 1797-1845," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt61b022cr, University of California Transportation Center.
    6. Klein, Daniel B. & Fielding, Gordon J., 1992. "Private Toll Roads: Learning from the 19th Century," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt1ps0p68g, University of California Transportation Center.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    toll roads; turnpikes; plank roads; privatization; free riding; regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation
    • N71 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N91 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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