The Reemerging Paradigm: Public-Private Partnerships

Government officials continue to decry the terrible condition of the state’s roads, but this time real solutions like public-private partnerships are receiving some support. On Monday, the House Transportation Committee met in Philadelphia to discuss two pieces of legislation allowing private companies to bid on transportation projects including Schuylkill Expressway and I-95. The Philadelphia Inquirer has the story, one by David Spett and another by Paul Nussbaum.

Unfortunately, legislators are making a meaningless, “distinction between selling off or leasing entire state assets, such as the turnpike, and allowing corporations to add capacity to packed highways that the state cannot afford to expand”. First of all, what good is a public asset if it’s controlled by a group of political insiders whose poor management could cost taxpayers $37.4 billion if the FHWA refuses to toll I-80? Secondly, if a highway is packed doesn’t that signify that many people consider it an asset? Their “distinction” is purely political but I’ve digressed–

P3s allow private companies to bid for the construction and maintenance of Express Toll Lanes and High Occupancy Toll lanes that have successfully lightened the taxpayer’s burden and aided congestion, Virginia is a pivotal example. It’s about time Pennsylvania invests in something that has a track record of success.

The FHWA agrees, “We at the [federal Department of Transportation] believe that it is time to take advantage of the private sector’s flexibility, innovation, creativity, expertise, and access to capital while maintaining public oversight, accountability to taxpayers, and long-term strategic planning.” Alleluia.

Public-private partnerships are a win-win, they allow the state to collect needed revenue for repairs and upkeep while offering more options to PA drivers and bolstering the economy by providing jobs for private firms.

Read Matt’s testimony on The Benefits of Public-Private Partnerships in Transportation here.