Private Partnerships and Transportation
According to The
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) the U.S. infrastructure
system urgently needs maintenance, modernization and a reliable,
long-term-stream of money.
One response is
“P3” –public-private partnership. Those who favor P3s think of them as
a ubiquitous solution. Those opposed to P3s strongly disagree.
Despite their fundamental disagreement, there are a few items that
those who favor P3s and those that oppose P3s probably agree on:
The “public” in P3 is
generally a governmental entity. The “private” is a nongovernmental,
usually for-profit, entity. The “partnership” is a joint venture
between the governmental and nongovernmental entities.
Most people appreciate
having access to roads, bridges and hospitals. (Since many hospitals
are governmental hospitals, they are relevant to this discussion).
Nobody really likes
paying taxes or tolls.
Since nobody really
likes paying taxes or tolls, it is a good idea to build and operate the
governmentally owned roads, bridges and hospitals as efficiently as
That is likely
where the consensus ends.
There is an
extremely vocal movement that vehemently opposes toll roads that are
built and operated by P3s for example. Quotes from the grassroots
populist movement opposed to P3s can easily be found online.
Because there is
no counter-balancing grassroots movement in support of P3s, it is more
challenging to find similarly passionate online quotes from P3
supporters. Hence, it appears that federal, state and municipal
governments have been much less comfortable executing new investments
that merge private enterprise with the public sector. However, tough
times often lead to a new way of viewing novel programs to both update
crumbling infrastructure and stimulating the economy. Presently a
grassroots movement in support of P3s may be emerging as P3
alternatives seem all the more attractive when the public sector
is faced with more and more debt and competing priorities for borrowing
more information on P3s, please contact Martin J. Milita, Esq., Senior
Director, located in DMGS’ New Jersey office at email@example.com or 973-222-1855.
Bill to Allow for Bigger Trucks
on Highways Under Consideration
Language inserted into appropriations bills in the
House and Senate would require states to allow “twin 33s,” or double
trailers each 33 feet in length, on the nation’s highways. The
provision would expand the allowable length for each trailer from 28
to 33 feet, which in turn would allow trucks to be up to 84 feet long
including the cab and the section that joins the two tandems. Only 11
states currently allow them.
the bill include police organizations, including the International
Association of Chiefs of Police, National Troopers Coalition, and
National Sheriffs Association, who are opposed to bigger trucks on
the highways. Additionally, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) wants
a provision that would allow longer tractor-trailer trucks on
Pennsylvania highways removed from a six-year federal transportation
bill that already passed the House. “I believe bigger trucks on
the road means the potential of more accidents and increased danger
for children and families. A U.S. Department of Transportation
study estimated longer trucks would cause more than $1 billion in
damage to roads and $1.1 billion to bridges. We don’t need
another problem, another safety concern that would arise in the
aftermath of this policy change. We should put the brakes on
organizations representing trucking interests responded to Senator
Casey’s comments. The largest trade association of U.S.
haulers, American Trucking Associations, called the proposal a
“modest increase” in trailer lengths that “will improve the safety of
our highways, improve our environment and boost the efficiency of our
industry.” “ By allowing 33-foot tandem trailers — which would
not change weight limits for commercial vehicles — we can eliminate
6.6 million truck trips a year, which in turn would reduce truck
miles traveled by 1.3 billion and cut carbon emissions by 4.4 billion
pounds. However, most importantly, by reducing truck traffic, based
on DOT data, we would eliminate more than 900 crashes,” per spokesman
Efficient and Responsible Trucking spokesman Ed Patru said a growing
reliance on online shopping will bring a 40 percent increase in
double trailers on already congested highways in the next
decade. “This dramatic increase in truck traffic will make
highways less safe for motorists and truckers alike unless steps are
taken to make freight transportation more efficient,” he said.
Demand Emphasizes Need for TIGER
The demand for infrastructure investments, and
for all types of transportation projects, has been overwhelming.
On July 30, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
announced that applications for its seventh round of Transportation Investment
Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants totaled $9.8 billion,
almost 20 times the $500 million set aside. Among the 625 eligible
applications received this year from all 50 U.S. state and territories, 60 percent are road projects, 18 percent are transit
projects, 8 percent are rail projects, 6 percent are port projects, and
6 percent are bicycle-pedestrian projects.
The highly competitive TIGER program, which began
as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, offers federal
funding possibilities for large, transformative multi-modal
projects. These federal funds leverage money from private sector
partners, state and local governments, metropolitan planning
organizations and transit agencies.
Since 2009, the TIGER grant program has provided
a combined $4.1 billion to 342 projects in all 50 states, the District
of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The $584.1 million awarded under
TIGER 2014 supported 72 capital and planning transportation projects in
46 states and the District of Columbia. 565 applications were submitted
“The consistent number of high quality projects
we’re unable to fund through TIGER every year demonstrates the need for
Congress to act to give more communities access to this vital
lifeline,” Secretary Foxx said. “That is why we proposed doubling TIGER
in the GROW AMERICA Act.”
Earlier this year, the Department reintroduced an
improved surface transportation reauthorization bill, the GROW AMERICA
Act. The bill would provide $7.5 billion in funding over six
years for the TIGER grant program. Under the GROW AMERICA Act,
the TIGER grant program will be available for another six years, extending
a proven track record of helping communities coordinate innovative,
multi-modal transportation projects that serve the diverse travel needs
of their residents and businesses in the 21st Century.
Higher Gas Taxes Considered for New Jersey Transportation Trust
Federal funding for New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF)
could run out on June 30, 2016, a critical issue as the fund relates
to statewide capital projects related to bridges, highways and mass
transit, including those of the NJ Transit. The timing concerning the
fund is in sync with NJ Transit’s first fare increase since
2010. The agency voted in late July to raise the price to ride
commuter trains, light rail and buses by an average 9 percent
increase, effective October 1, 2015. This amounts to a $2.1
billion operating plan that supports continued infrastructure
In an attempt to replenish the Trust Fund, some New Jersey
leaders are considering a higher tax on wholesale petroleum.
Gas taxes contribute to the state’s transportation trust fund.
A spokesman for Governor Chris Christie noted that the governor “will
listen to all the different ideas that get presented” that would
sustain the trust fund. Per a state transportation official,
any proposal would not be likely to gain traction until after
November’s elections. The wholesale petroleum tax is regarded
by some as among the more politically feasible, as it isn’t a tax
charged directly to drivers. However, drivers would most likely see
higher prices at the pump as wholesalers pass along their increased
Public officials are concerned with timing of funding, especially
as users of the NJ mass transit system have suffered from several
weeks of delays recently. The problems also raised concerns
about Governor’s Christie’s 2010 decision to halt construction of a
new rail tunnel that could have doubled capacity heading in and out
of New York City. Christie slightly changed course in July last
week when he relayed that he would be in favor of building a tunnel -
if he’s elected president. The New York Post predicted
“tunnel-mageddon” unless construction starts soon on new rail tunnels
to replace the 105-year-old twin tunnels, especially after the damage
caused by Hurricane Sandy.
On August 10, the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee is
slated to hold a hearing to discuss New Jersey’s transportation
infrastructure and discuss potential funding sources for the TTF.