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House forms special panel to study public-private partnerships

The private sector continues to show significant, growing interest in investing in infrastructure in the United States and internationally, says House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster. (Associated Press).

The Trucker News Services

1/17/2014

WASHINGTON — House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster and Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall II have announced the establishment of the committee’s next special panel, which will focus on the use of and opportunities for public-private partnerships (P3s) across all modes of transportation, economic development, public buildings, water and maritime infrastructure and equipment.

Shuster is from Pennsylvania, Rahall from West Virginia. 

The full committee’s vice chairman, Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., will chair the newly formed “Panel on Public-Private Partnerships,” and Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., will serve as the ranking member.

Duncan also led the Committee’s first special panel of the 113th Congress, which examined the need to improve U.S. freight transportation, and released its report in October.

The American Trucking Associations, the Truckload Carriers Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association frown upon such partnerships.

“Public-private partnerships usually mean tolls and generally, ATA’s policy is to oppose the sale or lease of existing highways — for example the Indiana Toll Road where truck tolls have doubled since 2006. ATA is neutral on the use of PPPs on new projects, provided trucks are not legally required to use those facilities,” Sean McNally, vice president of communications and press secretary for the ATA, said.

“We are not fans of public-private partnerships,” Dave Heller, director of safety and policy at the TCA, said. “We strongly oppose the lease or sale of tolls roads, bridges or tunnels for the purpose of funding the highway infrastructure. Nothing good happens from it.”

“We oppose leasing or selling public highways,“ Norita Taylor, media spokesperson for OOIDA, said.

The panel will examine the current state of P3s in the United States to identify (1) the role P3s play in development and delivery of transportation and infrastructure projects in the U.S., and on the U.S. economy; (2) if/how P3s enhance delivery and management of transportation and infrastructure projects beyond the capabilities of government agencies or the private sector acting independently; and (3) how to balance the needs of the public and private sectors when considering, developing, and implementing P3 projects.

Shuster said the panel’s work would serve as another tool as the full committee develops reauthorization legislation to replace MAP-21.

The Republican members of the panel are Duncan, Candice S. Miller of Michigan, Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, Tom Rice of South Carolina and Mark Meadows of North Carolina.

Democrats on the panel are Capuano, Peter DeFazio of Oregon, Eleanor Holmes North of the District of Columbia, Rick Larsen of Washington and Sean Patrick Maloney of New York.

 “The private sector continues to show significant, growing interest in investing in infrastructure in the United States and internationally.  But aside from a selection of highway projects, utilization of P3s in U.S. transportation, economic development, and water infrastructure has been limited,” Shuster said.  “Chairman Duncan and the members of the P3 panel will examine the role of public-private partnerships in our infrastructure and where greater opportunities may exist to leverage resources at the federal, state, and local level.  The panel’s recommendations will be used as the Committee continues to develop future legislation.”

“There’s no question that we must modernize our infrastructure across all modes of transportation and identify ways to finance these needed investments,” Rahall said.  “This bipartisan panel will help our Committee determine what role P3s can play in support of these efforts.  I look forward to our work together in the months ahead.”

By the rules of the committee adopted at the beginning of the Congress, the chairman can establish special panels to serve for a period of six months.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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