Friday, July 27, 2012

Thank you for visiting Tolling Points.  IBTTA has moved it's official blog to to the Advocacy tab at www.IBTTA.org.
Thanks,

Pat Jones
Executive Director and CEO
IBTTA
www.ibtta.org

Monday, July 23, 2012

Everybody in the Poole!

Bob Poole, the Director of Transportation Studies at the Reason Foundation and a regular speaker at our conferences, is a brilliant man, as regular readers of Reason’s Surface Transportation Newsletter know.

In the most recent edition of the Surface Transportation Newsletter, Poole examines:

What reauthorization means for tolling and PPP’s – “The rather status-quo oriented MAP-21 reauthorization bill that was signed by the President offers a few positive developments for tolling and PPPs, but fails to address the continued erosion of the users-pay/users-benefit nature of the Highway Trust Fund.”

The growing number of PPP bridges and tunnels – “From large to small, new or replacement toll bridge and tunnel projects are proliferating around the country, as state DOTs and city governments cope with diminished fuel-tax revenue.”

Whether Managed Lanes are self-supporting – In this piece, Bob does a masterful bit of sleuthing to determine that the Manage Lane project on I-95 in Miami “would be in the black in every one of the 10 years, based on the criteria used by other state DOTs,” and NOT unable to cover its costs, as the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Bob is just one of the many talented contributors to the Surface Transportation Newsletter, which is a must-read for all of us in the industry. To read the latest edition or to subscribe (it’s free!) click here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Engineering a Solution to Highway Funding Shortfalls



When it comes to a dispassionate accounting of reality, engineers are hard to beat. That’s why this article posted on MissouriWatchdog.org caught my attention today.

It reports on a study by University of Missouri civil engineering professor Carlos Sun, finding that tolls more equitably distribute the costs to build and repair roads, since only people who use them pay the fees.

He also suggested that toll roads will actually attract drivers who want a smoother ride. “Well-maintained toll roads could capture revenue for Missouri’s economy from out-of-state truckers and travelers, even if they don’t buy gas or other products in the state,” the Watchdog quoted him as saying.

While tolls have become a hot-button issue in Missouri for politicians, the article cites another engineer, who boils the problem down to its essence:

Matt Seiler, assistant engineer in the southeast district, said his area needs nearly $1 billion for projects in the next decade, and is allocated about $600 million during that time.

“Current funding will only allow the condition of the current transportation system to get worse,” he said.

We all need to apply this kind of clear-sightedness to the issue of our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Road to Prosperity

In a recent speech, President Barack Obama said, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. … Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.” 

Regardless of politics, virtually every American understands that our nation’s surface transportation infrastructure is critical to our economic health and our future prosperity. The issue now is, how do we fund these critical arteries of commerce?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Showing Good Judgment on Tolling

Tolls are often erroneously labeled “taxes,” but a recent lawsuit in Massachusetts actually sought to have some of the tolls collected there deemed as illegal taxes.

The Supreme Judicial Court, however, unanimously agreed that tolls are fees, not taxes.

"Where, as here, a public authority manages an integrated system of roadways, bridges, and tunnels, and chooses to impose tolls on only some of the roadways and tunnels in an amount sufficient to support the entire integrated system, its purpose does not shift from expense reimbursement to revenue raising simply because the toll revenues exceed the cost of maintaining only the tolled portions of the integrated system," Justice Ralph Gants wrote for the court.

"Nor must every road, bridge, and tunnel in an integrated system of roadway, bridges, and tunnels be tolled to enable the tolls collected to support the expenses of the entire integrated system without being deemed taxes," he wrote.

I couldn't have put it better myself.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Public-Private Partnerships: White Knights in Dark Economic Times

While the recently signed highway bill pledges to maintain current funding levels for the next 27 months—a move funded by borrowing almost $20 billion, mainly from pensions—many states and cities are pursuing innovative public-private partnerships (PPPs) rather than follow Uncle Sam’s “borrow from Peter to pay Paul” strategy.  As a recent AP article noted, many of our nation’s roads, tunnels and bridges were constructed over 50 years ago, and the recession has left states and cities without the revenue bases—or the credit ratings—needed to  make the improvements their residents need and deserve.

Luckily, private companies (and investors) are willing to step into this financial breach—paying significant up-front fees to state and local governments, quickly financing and completing transportation improvements, and using the fees from tolls to maintain these projects. For more information on how PPPs function, check out this Reason Foundation reportAnd with the recovery continuing to limp along, it’s reassuring to know that financial analysts see a stable future for toll roads as an industry here in the US. Though unfortunate that cities and states don’t share that strong financial outlook, PPPs offer a bright spot in an otherwise rather gloomy economic picture.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What New Tolling Ideas Would You Propose to Secretary LaHood?

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spoke to our Legislative Conference yesterday (March 8) in Washington, DC. He got a big laugh from delegates when he said he had come to IBTTA for the second year in a row to get a lecture about tolling the interstates.
On a more serious note, LaHood said the states want to build big projects, but many states are simply too cash-strapped to attempt them. He said the Department of Transportation wants to help them find ways to pay for the transportation solutions they need. In his blog, he said “repairing our existing roads, bridges, and tunnels and building new projects is essential to pushing the economy forward.”

The Secretary said he supports tolling and sees it as one component of America’s overall transportation funding mix. He said he supports the use of tolls on new road capacity but not on roads that have already been built. He cited examples of linkages with other modes on projects that the U.S. Department of Transportation has supported, such as combined highway and transit solutions. “We would be interested in hearing some new ideas about tolling,” LaHood said. “Propose some new ideas and we’ll take a look at them.”

Later in the day, I spoke with a senior U.S. DOT official who said the Secretary is sensitive to the views of Congress on transportation funding and tolling. According to this official, the Secretary isn’t hearing much support for tolling from members of Congress.

This observation reinforces what former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell told our delegates on March 7. “You will never convince the Congress directly that they should increase gas taxes or allow tolling on the interstates. Therefore, you have to convince the hometown. When the folks from home reassure their members of Congress that they won’t be thrown out of office because they support commonsense things like expanded use of tolling to improve infrastructure and create jobs, that’s when things will change,” Rendell said.

So here’s our question: What new ideas about tolling would you propose to Secretary LaHood? Beyond the call to ease restrictions on tolling interstate highways, what new ideas would you propose?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What is the Most Important Investment We Can Make Now?

In his State of the Union address last week, President Barack Obama devoted a considerable amount of attention to investment. He said we need to invest in basic research and new technologies, in education, in biomedical research, information technology, and clean energy technology. He said countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do and that China is building faster trains and newer airports. He said that when our own engineers graded America’s infrastructure, they gave us a "D." He vowed to put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. He said we’ll make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what's best for the economy, not politicians. And to help companies compete, he vowed to knock down barriers that stand in the way of their success, barriers such as unnecessary and burdensome government regulations.

It is a truism that we cannot invest everywhere at once – at least, not without spreading our resources so thinly that they don’t make a difference. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the US budget deficit in fiscal year 2011 will be nearly $1.5 trillion. With deficits like that, we must choose wisely where to invest our scarce resources. The vision of investment that President Obama articulated last week is only one vision. What is your vision about where we need to invest? What is the most important investment we can make now to have the greatest impact in the long run?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Happens If You Slow Down and Avoid Distraction?

Last week I had the pleasure of appearing in Juvenile Court in Alexandria, Virginia with my 16-year-old son Sam and 30 other 16-year-olds and their mom or dad. We were there for the driver’s license presentation ceremony. Sam actually earned his driver’s license several months ago and has been driving legally with a paper permit. But our state requires you to appear in court to receive the official license from a judge.

The judge was very pleasant and reassured the new drivers that today is a happy day and that no harm would come to them in this courtroom…today. However, in a speech that was both uplifting and cautionary, she said this: “You’re excited at the prospect of being able to drive around without mom or dad in the car. And mom and dad are also excited at the prospect of not having to drive you wherever you want to go. But this new license confers a big responsibility too. It’s not a right; it’s a privilege that is earned and can easily be taken away from you. There are really only two messages I want to convey to you as you begin this new period of freedom in your lives: slow down and avoid distraction. Young drivers get into accidents because they drive too fast and can’t handle the car when something unexpected happens; or, they get into accidents because they are distracted by other passengers in the car, by texting, or talking on their phone. So, slow down and avoid distraction.”

I tried to follow the judge’s advice – slow down and avoid distraction – as I drove into work today. Instead of “pushing it” and exceeding the speed limit to get ahead of the next guy, I stayed within 5 mph of the posted speed limit and kept mostly to the two right travel lanes on the highway. I observed several things when I did this. First, I noticed a lot more front bumpers and headlights very close to me in my rearview mirror. Second, I saw a lot more cars passing me. Third, I arrived at the office in about the same amount of time as if I had been “pushing it” as I often do. Finally, I felt more relaxed behind the wheel.

What else might happen in our lives and in the world if we slow down and avoid distraction? Would we increase our chances of actually experiencing the meaning of the holiday we intend to celebrate at this time of year? Would we spend more time actually visiting with family and friends instead of rushing about in shopping malls looking to buy something to express to our family and friends how we feel about them? What do you think? What happens if we follow the judge’s advice? What happens if you slow down and avoid distraction?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Changes Will the New Congress Bring?

Based on the November 2 mid-term elections in the U.S., there will be a new landscape on Capitol Hill in January. Republicans will control the House of Representatives while Democrats will hold onto a thin majority in the Senate. What do these changes mean for transportation? What effect will the new balance of power in Congress have on transportation authorization, the fuel tax, tolling, public private partnerships, livability, and protecting the public benefit?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What is your big learning or takeaway from the IBTTA Annual Meeting?

I think we had an exciting few days together in San Diego. And as so often happens, the learning, engagement, and excitement don’t end here, within the confines of the meeting. They continue for days, months or years after the meeting happens. You renew old acquaintances or make new ones. You take in a new idea that you begin to implement immediately; or perhaps it takes you a few weeks to start working on it. Or maybe the annual meeting stirs in you the embers of some ancient fire that begins to burn more brightly only years after the meeting is over.

In an interview in the most recent issue of Traffic Technology International, Steve Snider commented that he is still reaping the benefits of the first IBTTA membership dues he paid more than 16 years ago. In short, a great idea or experience is not limited to the three or four days in which it first emerged.

What is your big idea? What is your big learning or takeaway from the IBTTA Annual Meeting? Share it with us. Your idea could be the one thing that makes the difference for someone else.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What Are You Doing to Connect More Effectively?

This week’s question relates to how you are connecting with the people who are closest and most important to you: your family, friends, colleagues and – yes – your customers. In this era of technological hype in which text messaging, email, Twitter, and Facebook seem to take precedence over a face to face conversation or even a phone call, I’m wondering how effective these connections really are for maintaining and nurturing your most important personal and professional relationships.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert reflected on this issue in a recent column titled “Tweet Less, Kiss More.”  Herbert described an engagement party that a friend attended. “She said it was lovely: a delicious lunch and plenty of Champagne toasts. But all the guests had their cellphones on the luncheon tables and had text-messaged their way through the entire event. Enough already with this hyperactive behavior, this techno-tyranny and nonstop freneticism. We need to slow down and take a deep breath.”

Later in the column, Herbert goes on to say “I’m not opposed to the remarkable technological advances of the past several years. I don’t want to go back to typewriters and carbon paper and yellowing clips from the newspaper morgue. I just think that we should treat technology like any other tool. We should control it, bending it to our human purposes. Let’s put down at least some of these gadgets and spend a little time just being ourselves.”

With Bob Herbert’s column as inspiration, I would like to learn about the most important personal and professional connections in your life. How are they going? Are today’s remarkable tools enhancing your connection or placing greater distance between you and those most important to you? In short, what are you doing to connect more effectively?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Happens When You Rotate the Wheels on Interoperability?

This week’s question is about interoperability and open road tolling – in recognition of the workshop we just held in Boston. But first, a skating story.

This morning I rotated the wheels on my Rollerblade inline skates. The manufacturer recommends rotating the wheels periodically to avoid uneven wear patterns that could shorten the life of the wheels and cause accident or injury to the skater. So with my newly rotated wheels, I enjoyed one of the smoothest and comfortable skating experiences in weeks. Funny how that works. And much appreciated.

In Boston on Sunday through Tuesday of this week, more than 100 speakers and 375 delegates engaged in dialogue, debate, and discussion on a host of issues under the theme “The Future of Tolling: Going Mainstream Through ORT and Interoperability.” The members of IBTTA have some very definite convictions about interoperability, open road tolling, the prospect of vehicle miles traveled charging, and a host of related issues. Throughout the three days of meetings, I sat and stood with clusters of different people during meals and refreshment breaks and listened intently to the many ideas tossed about. Sometimes a person would be brimming with such energy and passion they would start to assert their own ideas even before the other person finished talking. This often happens at the dinner table in my family, so I realize it’s hard to avoid this level of passion in the tolling family.

However, reflecting on my Rollerblade ride this morning, it occurred to me that occasionally we exert some well-worn views without checking their condition. Is it possible that the “wear pattern” on our interoperability ideas is a bit uneven because we haven’t “rotated the wheels” lately? Think about it. What would happen if you rotated the wheels on your ideas about interoperability and ORT? Or better still, what would happen if you put on someone else’s skates – their ideas – and went for a spin? What would the ride feel like and how might you see the world differently?

So, the question for this week is to discover what happens when you rotate the wheels on interoperability? Take your own ideas and rotate them to avoid the “uneven wear pattern” that sometimes happens when you ride on them in the same position for too long – and tell us what your new idea looks like. Or, try on someone else’s ideas about interoperability and tell us what the world looks like through that new set of skates? Totally stumped? Then take a fresh approach to tell us what you think should be done to advance tolling interoperability in North America. If you need inspiration, you can consult the blog posting and comments from January at this link: http://ibtta.blogspot.com/2010/01/what-should-be-done-about.html

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What Does the Mergers and Acquisitions Trend Mean for Tolling?

In recent months, we have witnessed a spate of mergers and acquisitions activity in the intelligent transportation systems (ITS) side of tolling. One prominent example is Federal Signal’s acquisition of Diamond Consulting, Sirit, and VESystems which, combined with PIPS and Federal Automated Parking Devices, formed a new unit called Federal Signal Technologies Group.

On the public agency side, Massachusetts recently consolidated the Massachusetts Highway Department, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, the Massachusetts Port Authority (MassPort) with its Tobin Bridge, and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston area’s transit system) all under the management of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  In a similar move several years ago, New Jersey consolidated the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike into one authority overseen by a board of commissioners appointed by the governor.

Over the years, we have seen similar consolidations of toll road concessionaires in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and elsewhere around the world. So, mergers and acquisitions are a fact of life. Most M&As begin with high expectations for success and the promise of cost reductions, improved efficiency, and greater productivity. Some M&As live up to those expectations while others fall short by varying degrees. Others fail miserably.

What do recent mergers and acquisitions mean for the toll industry? What is the significance of M&As for the sustainability of tolling as a funding, financing, operating, and governance mechanism? What do they say about the political, economic, technological, and social forces that are exerting their influence on mobility solutions around the world? What influence, if any, will these M&As have on the goal of achieving universal interoperability of electronic toll collection?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What Are You Doing to Embrace Good Stewardship?

(Note: This week’s question is inspired by the life of Ed DeLozier, executive director of the E-470 Public Highway Authority in Aurora, Colorado, and first vice president of IBTTA, who passed away suddenly on April 21 after suffering a stroke. Ed dedicated his life to the toll industry. He mentored me and countless others who found their home in transportation. Ed was at his best when he was helping others to be their best. He defined what good stewardship is all about. You can read more about Ed and his life on the Memorial Website set up by E-470 and on the Memorial page set up by IBTTA.)

With the world economy still suffering from the effects of the global financial crisis and high unemployment in many parts of the world, leaders and managers increasingly confront the question of stewardship. How do we do more with less? How do we drive cost out of the system to accommodate declining revenues? Perhaps most importantly, how do we engage, motivate, and retain our best people in a time of economic volatility and uncertainty? And how do we continue delivering the highest level of service to our customers in a constrained environment?

At transportation departments and tolling agencies, stewardship is often a team function – with the general manager/executive director/CEO working in tandem with a board of directors, a commission, a city council or some other governing body. The CEO also works in tandem with a management team and staff who, ideally, share a common vision. One function of the CEO is to provide effective orientation to the members of the board or commission. That means providing a useful frame or context in which to view the world and shape decisions about the policies, people, and resources needed to sustain the transportation network.

Our question this week involves the changing nature of stewardship in a volatile world. As the CEO or senior leader of a transportation organization, what information do you most want your board or commission to have? What are the key attributes of the frame or lens through which you want your board to see the world? What are your obligations to others in the organization – the junior staff and middle managers who will assume the mantle of leadership in years to come? What will you do to help those who surround you to become greater than yourself?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What is the Future for Tolling U.S. Interstate Highways?

On April 6, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration declined to approve Pennsylvania’s application to place tolls on Interstate 80. In its press release FHWA said, “The Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program requires that revenue from tolls be used only to improve the tolled facility, in this case I-80, and not be directed toward other state funding needs or transportation projects elsewhere in the state, as is the case in the Pennsylvania application.”

Reacting to the decision, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said "People understand that if they want safe bridges, good roads, and potholes eliminated, you cannot wait for the pothole fairy to do it – you’ve got to pay for it." Governor Rendell also predicted that under the next federal surface transportation bill, "They will lift the ban on tolling federal highways because there is no appetite for raising the gas tax right now, and this is one of the only ways for us to maintain these highways.”`

Commenting on the decision, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “I care about the transportation needs of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We have provided $1.4 billion in Recovery Act funds to Pennsylvania over the last year to jump start the economy and put people back to work. We based today's decision on what is allowable under federal law.” However, on April 7, speaking to ICAT, a transportation conference hosted by Bradley University and Caterpillar, Inc. in Peoria, Illinois, Secretary LaHood noted the Federal Highway Trust Fund has run out of money and that tolling and PPPs are the wave of the future. He repeated his support for tolling during the question and answer session.

Rounding out this picture of fierce diversity on the subject of tolling federal-aid highways, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar held an unusual hearing on March 26 during which he rejected the notion of tolling interstate highways and “existing roadways that have already been paid for by the users.” (See TollroadsNews). Which makes us recall this statement by Ed Regan of Wilbur Smith Associates during IBTTA’s 2005 Future Forum: “Federal restrictions on the ability of states to put tolls on existing interstate highways is one of the biggest barriers to that rebuilding process. So the federal government, while not supplying solutions in terms of funding, still refuses to get out of the way and allow tolling as an option for the states to use.”

So, what do you think? What is your view on the prospects for tolling U.S. interstate highways? Will the Congress ultimately see things as Governor Rendell does and lift the ban on tolling interstate highways? Will Americans stomach the possibility that un-tolled interstate highways will now be tolled? What will make or break this shift in federal policy?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What Are You Incubating?

Usually at this time of year, I get a big surge of energy in my life: physically, mentally, psychologically – the works. I think it has something to do with the lengthening of days, the increase in sunshine, and the melting of winter into spring. This year, my energy surge is not as big as it has been in previous years. That usually means I’m incubating something. While my conscious mind is busy with everyday things like work, attending meetings, writing, responding to email, etc., my unconscious mind is working on something else altogether. And it’s drawing a lot of energy.

I wonder what this incubation is all about. Maybe it has to do with the development of our new strategic plan or the ramping up of our new functional committees. Maybe it’s about IBTTA’s business model and the adaptations we’ll need to make over the coming years. Maybe it’s related to my three children leaving the nest one by one and going on to other adventures. Or it could be something else.

So, our question for this week: What are YOU incubating? What earth-shattering new development is emerging from behind the shadows of your mind? What is keeping you up at night, perhaps even in a good way? What profound thoughts are poking their way out from your unconscious mind and spurring you on to something new? What are you incubating?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How Should Proposed Surface Transportation Projects Be Evaluated?

There appears to be an implicit bias in favor of implementing new surface transportation projects that are either tax supported or funded/controlled by the government (federal, state, local) versus projects that involve tolling, pricing, or public-private partnerships.

Are tolled projects subjected to a higher level of scrutiny than government controlled or funded projects? If so, why? If all surface transportation projects -- whether tolled or non-tolled -- were subjected to the same evaluation framework, would we see more tolled projects proceed than we do now? What criteria should be included in the evaluation of surface transportation projects to remove the apparent bias in favor of government controlled projects?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Where is Innovation Coming from in Transportation?

(UPDATE: We’re keeping this blog question open for another week because innovation takes time. We’ve all heard the story of how Herb Kelleher and Rollin King came up with the idea for Southwest Airlines over drinks at a local bar. As the story goes, Mr. King laid out his plan by drawing three dots on a cocktail napkin representing Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. And Mr. Kelleher supposedly responded: "Rollin, you're crazy. Let's do it." While very inspiring, the napkin story is fiction. But we do know that innovation does happen, usually with lots of fits and starts and, yes, failure. We invite you to add your perspective, which can be something new or a commentary on one of the earlier responses. Thanks for all you do to make this blog a source of thoughtful inspiration for our industry. – Pat)

Keeping in mind that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will address IBTTA’s Legislative Conference on Monday, March 22, it might be useful for us to reflect back to him our thoughts on where innovation is coming from in transportation and the toll industry.

When you’re in a recession like the one we’ve been in for nearly two years, innovation and competitiveness take on major importance – especially if you want to get out of the recession and emerge stronger on the other side. In a recent New York Times op-ed column, Thomas Friedman uses a striking image to illustrate the innovation gap between the U.S. and another global powerhouse. “We are the United States of Deferred Maintenance. China is the People’s Republic of Deferred Gratification. They save, invest and build. We spend, borrow and patch.”

Friedman cites a recent study by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) titled, “The Atlantic Century: Benchmarking EU and US Innovation and Competitiveness.” ITIF uses 16 indicators to assess the global innovation-based competitiveness of 36 countries and 4 regions. The 16 indicators fall into six broad categories called (1) human capital, (2) innovation capacity, (3) entrepreneurship, (4) IT infrastructure, (5) economic policy, and (6) economic performance.

The report finds that while the U.S. still leads the EU in innovation-based competitiveness, it ranks sixth overall. Moreover, the U.S. ranks last in progress toward the new knowledge-based innovation economy over the last decade. All of the other 39 countries and regions studied have made faster progress toward the new innovation-based knowledge economy in recent years than the U.S.

The EU-15 region has made some progress over the last decade, but slower than the overall average and as a result, ranks 29th among the 40 nations/regions. The country that ranks highest in the overall score for 2009 is Singapore. The country that ranks highest in the change score from 1999-2009 is China.

So, where does innovation come from in transportation? Where should it come from? What can we in the transportation sector do to raise the innovation score (and hence competitiveness) of our respective countries? Are we destined to spend, borrow, and patch? Or can we – once more – save, invest, and build?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What is the Appropriate Role for Public-Private Partnerships in Surface Transportation?

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the U.S. Congress recently released an updated version of a report titled “Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Highway and Transit Infrastructure Provision.” You can read an earlier version of the report dated July 9, 2008 here: http://opencrs.com/document/RL34567/2008-07-09/

According to CRS, “This report describes the wide variety of public-private partnerships in highways and transit, but focuses on the two types of highway PPPs that are generating the most debate: the leasing by the public sector to the private sector of existing infrastructure; and the building, leasing, and owning of new infrastructure by private entities.”

Advocates of PPPs frequently argue that private sector involvement in infrastructure is the best hope for injecting new resources into the maintenance and expansion of transportation systems and could potentially reduce costs, project delivery time, and public sector risk. Opponents argue that PPPs have limited applicability and could disrupt the operation of the surface transportation network, increase driving costs, and subvert the public planning process – unless they are carefully regulated.

What do you think? Is it time to encourage greater private sector involvement in the development and maintenance of our road infrastructure – in the face of congressional gridlock on transportation authorization and government deficits as far as the eye can see? Or are the risks and uncertainties of private sector involvement in the maintenance and expansion of roads too great for the public to bear?