Organizational and Risk Characteristics of Emerging Public-Private Partnership Models


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Virginia Tech


State transportation authorities’ reliance on traditional financing mechanisms such as gas taxes and federal support has waned of late as these mechanisms have proved insufficient to keep pace with the escalating demand for transportation infrastructure in the United States. As a result, public-private partnerships (P3) are increasingly viewed as a part of the solution to this problem. A partnership between the public and private sector allows both entities to “mutually benefit” from the private sector’s equity/debt financing structure and ability to bring innovation and efficiency to the table. Companies have formed consortia either to lease the existing toll roads through what is termed as a Brownfield project model or deliver design-build-finance-operate projects categorized as a Greenfield model.

A case-study based approach helps to identify the organizational structure, nature of the key participants and risk characteristics of these Greenfield-Brownfield P3 models. The four cases identified for study include, the Pocahontas Parkway in Virginia, SR-125 in California representing the Greenfield model and the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll road under the Brownfield model.

An analytical template comprised of a project finance structure, risk matrix for each of the four cases and Porter’ s segmentation matrix for the selected private sector project participants is used to characterize the structure of the P3 arrangement in the cases. The project finance structure illustrates the formation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to delineate the role played by different participants. Risk matrices developed for all the four cases helps to identify the allocation of risks among the state and the SPV or the concessionaire. Porter’ s segmentation matrix helps to identify the activities of the key players or sponsor companies in various sectors including infrastructure, across the world.

The SR-125- Greenfield- model seems to have evolved from Pocahontas Parkway as the private sector solely finances the project and assumes the high revenue risk and responsibility to operate and maintain the facility. The Brownfield model faces a political backlash in the U.S., and this risk has become fundamental to the model.

Based on their core competencies, companies decide in which of the two models they are suited to participate. Their individual expertise adds value when they collaborate to deliver a public-private partnership. Finally, further evolution of the Greenfield and Brownfield models depends upon the developments in the U.S. P3 market.



Innovative Project Delivery, Project Finance, Brownfield, Greenfield, Public-Private Partnerships