Turnpike trusts were private organisations that built and operated toll roads in Britain and the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries. They emerged in 17th century Britain because local governments were unwilling to invest in roads. They issued bonds to finance investment and imposed tolls on road users. In Britain, travel times and freight charges declined by over 40% during 1750–1800; they fell also in the United States. Turnpike trusts also raised land values and promoted urbanisation. They show how changes in institutional arrangements can encourage infrastructure investment and promote economic development.
KeywordsLand values Turnpike bonds Turnpike trusts Urbanization
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