"own" it, all they care for is to control the property. It is better then ownership as they don't have to take responsibility for the road itself (ie. maintenance etc.) unless the state specifically implies it in their agreement of the "private-public partnership".
It would be worthwhile to see the contract agreement itself. One can probably do a FOIA request and find out. It might be very enlightening to see how the real owners are being screwed in this deal. After all it is our gas tax that builds these roads, and the repair/maintenance as far as I am aware comes from the same funds collected through the gas tax. Correct me if I am wrong, but it appears to my layman point of view that someone is collecting more money than what is allocated for this road; once through gas tax, the other through the toll road fees.
Control is the key, not ownership. Besides the many advantages it offers, one can use it as a leverage to make more money for oneself without risking ones own wealth. A typical statist approach of how to get rich in the public sector.
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