Public-Private Partnerships

With the federal Highway Trust Fund and the next surface transportation bill hanging in the balance, a number of national policymakers, stakeholders and analysts are beginning to weigh in with their preferences for what should happen in the months ahead. Here’s a roundup of some recent pronouncements on the subject as well as some other related resources.

Hopefully many of you have had a chance to dive into my recent post on the Top 5 Issues for 2014 in Transportation. It’s part of a series across all our policy areas here at CSG that has become a popular annual feature. The expanded version of the transportation list (which I have newly updated this week) includes extensive links to related articles and resources from throughout 2013. Now with nearly a month of 2014 under our belts, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at those Top 5 issues through the prism of the New Year and the transportation stories it has generated so far. I have updates on MAP-21 reauthorization and the future of the Highway Trust Fund, the legacy of MAP-21, continuing state activity on transportation revenues, the evolution of public-private partnerships and states and communities working on finding solutions for a multi-modal transportation future.

State capitals were where the action was in 2013, with six states approving significant revenue packages and a number of others setting in motion plans for 2014, when the activity is expected to continue around the country. Some of the attention now shifts back to Washington as Congress must again consider legislation to authorize federal transportation programs and decide what to do about the dwindling Highway Trust Fund and as the legacy of the 2012 legislation, known as MAP-21, is cemented. Meanwhile public-private partnerships, which have helped some states fund pricey transportation projects and weather fiscal uncertainty in recent years, will likely continue to evolve in the year ahead. All this as officials at all levels of government and other stakeholders continue to seek approaches to ensure the vision of a multi-modal future for communities and commerce is realized. Here’s my expanded article on the top 5 issues in transportation for 2014 and a wide variety of additional CSG and non-CSG resources where you can read more.

From the Columbia River Crossing bridge project in the Pacific Northwest to the Illiana Expressway project in the nation’s midsection to Maryland’s Purple Line light rail project, a number of transportation projects that involve public-private partnerships (P3s) and/or tolling have been in the news of late. Meanwhile, a state Supreme Court decision in Virginia appears likely to pave the way for more tolls and P3s in that state. I also have updates on projects in a number of other states as well as links to recent related reports and articles.

Day three of the CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, DC began with a panel discussion on the transportation funding packages approved this year in Virginia and Maryland. On the panel were Virginia Speaker of the House William Howell, Virginia Assistant Secretary of Transportation Matt Strader, Maryland House Majority Leader Kumar Barve and Maryland Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy and Freight Bruce Gartner.

Day two of the CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, DC included a transportation policy roundtable featuring a variety of transportation stakeholders and experts. Among them was Drew Preston, Manager of Congressional and Public Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He spoke about the importance of private investment in the future of transportation, the Chamber’s efforts to recruit infrastructure champions in the business community and how state officials and the Chamber can work together in support of state and federal transportation investment.

The first day of the CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. also included a keynote address from Maryland Secretary of Transportation James T. Smith Jr. Smith is a lifelong resident of Baltimore County. He served two terms on the Baltimore County Council, 16 years as an Associate Judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County and eight years as County Executive. He spoke about Maryland’s overall approach to transportation and how the passage of a major funding package in 2013 will help them achieve some of his agency’s key goals and projects.

The CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. got underway October 28 with a transportation-focused bus tour hosted by the Maryland Department of Transportation. The tour included a stop at the future site of the Takoma Park/Langley Transit Center (now the site of a Taco Bell) and a briefing on plans for the Purple Line light-rail project, an innovative transit public-private partnership. The tour also stopped at Mid-Pike Plaza in the White Flint area of Montgomery County, where a mixed-use, transit-oriented development is under construction. Attendees also traversed the length of MD200, the Intercounty Connector as MDOT officials discussed the financing and operation of the two-year old toll road that connects Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Below is a compendium of presentations and handouts from the tour as well as additional reading on some of the topics discussed.

Ten state legislators from around the country, many of them transportation committee chairs or vice chairs in their respective states, attended the invitation-only CSG Transportation Policy Academy October 28-30, 2013 in Washington, DC. The event included a panel discussion on the transportation funding packages approved this year in Maryland and Virginia. Attendees met with members of Congress and officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation. They toured transportation projects in Maryland and got a briefing on vehicle-to-vehicle technology at Toyota's Government Affairs office. In addition, the group took part in a transportation policy roundtable that included stakeholders and experts from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Eno Center for Transportation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Bipartisan Policy Center, Transportation for America and ITS America. The discussion focused on such topics as the state of the nation's infrastructure, the federal role in transportation, the role of the business community in encouraging infrastructure investment, the chances for a new federal surface transportation bill and the future of transportation funding and the federal-state-local partnership on transportation. This page includes links to additional pages highlighting various portions of the policy academy and including extended remarks from speakers, additional resources and further reading.

There are a number of recent news items suggesting several states could follow in the footsteps of Virginia as they seek ways to fund their infrastructure needs going forward. Some in Congress also appear to be taking a hard look at the Virginia plan, which included eliminating the state’s 17.5 cents-per-gallon gas tax in favor of new wholesale taxes on gasoline and diesel and an increase in the general sales tax. I also have updates on some other states looking at transportation funding issues and a preview of our upcoming Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, DC, where many of these issues will likely be part of the conversation.