Representatives from USHSR have participated in several hearings this year of the newly-created special panel on public-private partnerships, chaired by Congressman John J. Duncan (R-TN).
In September, USHSR Vice President Joe Shelhorse participated in the unveiling of the eagerly anticipated report on the potential for Public Private Partnerships (P3s) to help fund America's transportation infrastructure. The hearing attracted a crowd of business leaders and investors interested in participating in projects across America.
Testimony was provided by Joseph Kile of Microeconomic Studies, James Bass of TxDOT, Phillip Washington of Denver's Regional Transit District (RTD) and Richard Fierce of Flour on behalf of Associated General Contractors of America.
The report concluded that well-structured P3 projects have a place in funding infrastructure projects, while cautioning it was not a silver bullet, and federal involvement remains necessary.
Using the Eagle P3 Project in Denver as their rail case study, members of the panel indicated strong support to utilize P3 projects as one way to move transportation projects forward, which both reduces taxpayer outlays and accelerates project time lines. USHSR member Balfour Beatty Rail was a leading contractor on the project. Chairman Duncan stated it would have taken the government two decades to complete the Eagle Project without the P3.
"The general sentiment of the panel was that the house is ready to move projects forward if they have private sector participation," Shelhorse said. "Additionally, existing programs such as TIFIA can support P3 projects. 41 loans totaling over $15 billion in credit assistance have already been issued to leverage over $59 billion in project funding."
USHSR sees P3s as a useful tool to assist the development of high speed rail projects in America.
The US High Speed Rail Association is putting on a conference about high speed rail in America and around the world in Los Angeles from Dec. 2-4, which will cover P3s in detail, along with the rapid development of the high speed rail industry.
Daniel Krause is director of policy and operations for the US High Speed Rail Association.