Public-Private Partnerships

The Michigan Legislature adjourned Thursday for most of the summer without voting on a plan to increase the gas tax to fix deteriorating roads and bridges. Also this week, following Tuesday’s loss by U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Virginia primary race, the jury is out on how it will impact getting a new federal surface transportation authorization bill and a Highway Trust Fund bailout in place this summer but most signs appeared to point toward a short-term solution with hopes that lawmakers could tackle something more long-term in a lame duck session following the election. I’ve also got the usual roundup of items and links on reauthorization, the trust fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said this week his panel is hard at work considering options for saving the Highway Trust Fund from pending insolvency and he hopes to pass a bill out of the committee before the Senate adjourns for its July 4 recess. But the Senate is unlikely to consider a House Republican plan that would rely on savings from changes at the U.S. Postal Service, which continued to receive skepticism this week. And the closing of a bridge along a major artery in Delaware this week demonstrates what’s at stake in trying to find ways to invest in the nation’s infrastructure. I also have the usual round-up of links to items on MAP-21 reauthorization and the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies. 

With the federal Highway Trust Fund expected to run short of money to pay its bills as soon as July and no agreement in Congress on how to ensure the fund’s stability going forward, some are now floating the idea that projected savings from changes at the U.S. Postal Service could be tapped as a funding source. I also have a look at the new Government Accountability Office report on managerial and transparency concerns with the TIGER discretionary grant program. Plus the usual roundup of links to articles and reports on MAP-21 reauthorization and the future of the Highway Trust Fund, the legacy of MAP-21, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

The chief counsel for the Federal Transit Administration and transit agency officials from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Texas were on Capitol Hill this week for a hearing on what it will take to get transit systems back in a state of good repair as the nation faces an $86 billion backlog of critical repair needs that’s expected to grow at a rate of $2.5 billion annually without additional investment. I also have the usual roundup of news and links on MAP-21 reauthorization, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week released and marked-up its bipartisan, six-year transportation bill before moving the bill forward. Now comes the hard part of trying to come up with the money to fund the bill and to tackle the looming shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund. Meanwhile President Obama and Vice President Biden both took to the road this week to put the focus on infrastructure investment. And a chorus of voices grew louder that perhaps the best way to make it happen is the most obvious—increasing the federal gas tax. I also have the usual roundup of news and links on state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies in this special, super-sized, Infrastructure Week edition of the blog.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer said Thursday her committee plans to introduce and mark up a new surface transportation authorization bill next week. The measure is expected to be a five- or six-year bill that would keep current spending levels, adjusted for inflation. But elsewhere on Capitol Hill this week there were ominous signs that agreement on a way to pay for such a bill has yet to emerge. Meanwhile states continue to be concerned about key transportation projects that could be scuttled if Congress fails to act to shore up the Highway Trust Fund.

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Bryan Kendro is the Director of the Pennsylvania Office of Policy & Public-Private Partnerships. I spoke with him by telephone on March 4, 2014. Portions of this interview appear in the May 8 issue of the Capitol Ideas E-Newsletter and the forthcoming 2014 edition of CSG’s The Book of the States. He discusses Pennsylvania’s Rapid Bridge Replacement Project, a public-private partnership the state is pursuing to replace hundreds of structurally deficient bridges. Kendro will be among the speakers at the InfraAmericas U.S. P3 Infrastructure Forum in New York City this June.

InfraAmericas logoJodie Misiak is the Assistant Director for Innovative Finance at the Maryland Department of Transportation. I spoke with her by telephone during the week of April 28, 2014. Some of these comments appear in the May 8, 2014 edition of the Capitol Ideas E-Newsletter. She discusses Maryland’s pursuit of a public-private partnership (P3) to build the Purple Line, a proposed 16-mile light rail line that will connect Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. I also asked her whether she expects transit project P3s to become more commonplace in the United States, what other P3 projects Maryland has on the horizon and about the state’s acceptance of unsolicited P3 proposals. She also addresses her upcoming appearance at the InfraAmericas U.S. P3 Infrastructure Forum in New York City. It was at last year’s forum that Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown officially announced the Purple Line P3.

The Obama administration this week sent to Congress its proposal for a multi-year transportation bill under the name the GROW AMERICA Act. Here’s a roundup of some of the best summaries and stakeholder reactions from around the web. I also have a variety of links to some new reports and information about some upcoming events.

New Hampshire’s first gas tax increase in more than 20 years won final approval in the state legislature this week. Meanwhile, the defeat of a ballot measure to increase sales taxes and enact a car tab fee to fund transit service in Seattle’s King County means residents will see cuts in bus service hours just as ridership is on the rise. Plus, just as the Highway Trust Fund gets ready to run dry, there are renewed concerns about the condition of bridges in the United States. I also have the usual updates and links to items on MAP-21 reauthorization and the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies. And I have news about a worthwhile conference you’ll want to add to your summer travels.

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