Public Private Partnerships

Private Capital Eyed For Transit, Roads

Drawing from $19.9 billion in Prop. 1B voter-appproved bonding authority, a California commission has allocated $3 billion to help fund 79 road, rail, bridge, transit and other transportation projects. The bottom line of this summary shows the projects will cost $8 billion to complete, necessitating the usual cost-sharing with other jurisdictions. Included are more High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lanes on 1-15 in San Diego, arterial lane additions in Yuba City, various rehab projects for crumbling roads statewide, replacement of an unsafe bridge at Fort Bragg, crossovers between mainline freight train tracks, enhanced grade separation for Los Angeles-region commuter rail, rehab and addition of inter-city train tracks at L.A’s downtown station, second-phase seismic upgrade work on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Read More ›

Private Solutions to a Public Mess

At least that’s what I call our transportation situation–“mess”. And the mess now has a glimmer of hope of untangling itself, thanks to private companies that see potential in self-financed commuter rail. Let’s review a bit of history. Trolley lines and street cars, for the most part, were built and maintained with private money. Railroads were built and are still operated by private entities. Maybe it is time to revisit these scenarios and allow private companies to lease and operate commuter rail lines. It solves the problem of public financing. With precedent set for public ownership and private construction and/or operation (AKA “public-private partnerships”), there is no worry of “selling out” to big developers, or losing public assets. According to Read More ›

Cargo Traffic, Private Investment Growing At U.S. Ports

Forecasts predict a veritable tsunami of maritime cargo swamping U.S. port facilities in the years ahead. In the past 5 years container trade in North America has increased by 6.8%. It’s projected to soar by 50% by 2015, from 48 million TEUs in 2005 to 72 million in 2015. (TEU stands for “twenty-foot equivalent unit,” a standard measure of container capacity). By 2020 North American ports and their associated intermodal systems will be severely congested, with demand exceeding current capacity by as much as 200% assuming current productivity and growth levels, predicts John Vickerman, an industry expert in planning and design of port, intermodal and freight logistics facilities. How should U.S. ports respond to this challenge? Some observers suggest that Read More ›

A Discriminating View Of Public-Private Partnerships

Not all forms of public-private partnerships received an unreserved endorsement at the19th annual Conference on Public-Private Ventures in Transportation, staged recently by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Long term leases of existing toll roads, as exemplified by the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road, were viewed with skepticism by some speakers. Coming in for particularly severe criticism were leases whose proceeds would be dedicated to non-transportation purposes. “If the motivation for a P3 project is to generate upfront cash that can be used to solve statewide budget problems or finance other expenditures not related to transportation, we will oppose that deal,” announced AAA’s Robert Darbelnet in a luncheon address. However, “public private partnerships are certainly one of the Read More ›

Puget Sound Mobility Requires Public-Private Partnerships

The Tacoma News Tribune reports this morning that the crumbling, 94-year-old Murray Morgan Bridge has been ordered closed by State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, raising strong city council concerns about access to Tacoma’s tidelands areas for medical or industrial emergency response. A 2004 estimate pegs rehab costs at $77 million, but only $25 million has been secured to date, the TNT reports. Current road and transit needs for the Puget Sound Region total $66 billion over the next two decades, according to a transportation governance commission created by the Washington State Legislature and Governor Christine Gregoire. Those needs are likely to grow. The population of four-county metro Seattle will rise from the 2000 U.S. Census level of 3.276 million by Read More ›

Tolling Goes Mainstream

Approaching 2008, tolling has entered the mainstream and begun to influence transportation decisions throughout the country. At the same time – as Forbes magazine notes – transponder technology is enabling higher-speed, automated “open road” tolling, foreshadowing an eventual end to the era of tollbooths. Recent news reports underscore the increased momentum for tolling – although often the pathway to implementation is challenging, and some proposals pencil out while others ultimately do not. Let’s survey the tolling landscape. With the state facing a projected 30-year, $74 billion shortfall in needed road funding, Georgia Board of Transportation member David Doss has unveiled a plan which includes a 10-year statewide one percent sales tax hike to raise $22 billion for transportation, and which Read More ›

Governors Assert States’ Rights On Public-Private Pacts

Ordinarily the National Governors Association (NGA) does not take a public position on statements made by individual congressional lawmakers. But, concerned about future transportation funding options, the NGA broke that rule recently to respond to a much-noticed warning from U.S. Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) against entering into public-private partnerships (PPPs), in which the legislators threatened to “undo” PPP agreements that did not conform to their conception of “the public interest.” In a June 15 response to the congressmen, NGA chair Gov, Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), NGA Vice Chair Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), were joined by Gov. Dave Heineman (R-NE) and Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), chair and vice chair respectively of NGA’s Economic Development and Commerce Committee. Read More ›

Public-Private Partnerships Boost Infrastructure In B.C., Canada

For a nation thought to embody the concept of “Big Government,” Canada has some lessons for advocates of private investment in the West Coast’s lagging transportation infrastructure. The Los Angeles Times reports that while efforts have stalled in the state legislature to broaden private sector involvement in the enhancement of California’s transportation system, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger found inspiration for that cause during last week’s visit to Vancouver, British Columbia. At a Vancouver construction site that he dropped by, workers were busily boring a tunnel for the type of public works project that the governor has been unable to get off the ground at home: one owned and operated entirely by a private company. A 12-mile rail line that will connect Read More ›

Research Compendium

Last updated August 25, 2008 The research, it just keeps coming. On this page, we’ll compile links to key studies and reports on innovation in transportation. MANAGING, PLANNING & FUNDING TRANSPORTATION Cascadia Center Reports “Lessons In Public-Private Partnerships & Climate Change: What British Columbia Taught California, And What Washington Can Still Learn,” 10/07. “A Tale Of Three Cities: How San Diego, Denver and Vancouver, B.C. Raised Major Regional Funds For Transportation,” Doug Hurley, Cascadia Center For Regional Development, 9/06. “Travel Value Pricing: Better Traffic Operations Management & New Revenue For The Puget Sound Region,” John S. Niles, for Cascadia Center, 4/06. “Transportation Working Group Recommendations,” Transportation Working Group, Cascadia Center For Regional Development, 2/15/05. Transportation Working Group background, members, and Read More ›