WASHINGTON — States should resist the temptation to raise cash by leasing their existing roads to private firms for lengthy periods of time because the deals may not be in the public’s interest, two powerful federal lawmakers warned in letters sent to governors, state legislatures, and state transportation officials.

“We write to strongly discourage you from entering into public-private partnership agreements that are not in the long-term public interest in a safe, integrated national transportation system that can meet the needs of the 21st Century,” Reps. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn, and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said in the letters, which were dated May 10, but not publicly released until Monday night.

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