Effectiveness of Contemporary Public-Private Partnerships for Large Scale Infrastructure in the United States


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Virginia Tech


Increasingly, states are relying on creative financing and asset management to maintain and improve the nation's transportation infrastructure since budgetary challenges constrain potential options. One method of tapping into alternative sources of capital is the public-private partnership (PPP or P3). A public-private partnership is a long-term contractual agreement in which the public sector authority assigns a traditionally public responsibility (such as operations and/or financing) to the private sector participant, in hopes of achieving mutual benefit. First employed in the contemporary era in the late 1980's by California and Virginia, the public-private partnership has continued to become a more popular delivery method. A thorough review of the literature on the subject reveals both academic and institutional material covering a wide variety of P3 topics. Garvin's (2007) P3 Equilibrium Framework supplemented the current body of knowledge by building upon past research to better analyze the performance of existing and proposed PPP's or serve as a resource when developing future projects. The Framework allows the user to assess a project or program and determine its potential for producing desirable results. This research utilizes case studies to gain further insight into P3 projects and programs, as well as the performance of the original P3 Equilibrium Framework. The cases include the evolution of legislation in California and Virginia, and four projects that resulted from these programs: the State Route 91 Express Lanes, Dulles Greenway, Pocahontas Parkway, and failed I-81 Improvement proposals. Application of the original framework to the case studies led to several refinements. The changes provide more comprehensive appraisal mechanisms and improve the applicability and consistency of the P3 Equilibrium Framework. In addition, the concept of "tension" is introduced, which in effect is a means of describing the stress between the interested parties of a P3 arrangement. Ultimately, the revised Framework helps to structure perspectives of P3 arrangements and is underpinned by the notion that these strategies must balance the interests of society, the state, industry, and the market for ultimate success.



Infrastructure Finance, Innovative Project Delivery, Public-Private Partnership