Even in an improving economy, and with Congress’s temporary rescue of the Federal Highway Trust Fund, states are faced with further shortfalls
in federal funding for vital transportation infrastructure such as roads and bridges. But some states are finding a solution in alternative delivery mechanisms such as Design-Build and Public Private Partnerships (P3s).
In Pennsylvania, the state department of transportation is moving forward a plan to use P3 delivery for an ambitious program to replace and repair at least 500 of the state’s bridges. Four teams have been selected to submit proposals based on their ability to finance the project, their background and experience in managing similar assignments and their understanding of the project. Selection of a preferred team is expected this fall with construction slated to begin in 2015.
In Florida, the state DoT has just completed its first ever transportation P3 funded by a TIFIA loan from the US DoT, adding three innovative reversible lanes to the six-lane Interstate 595 in Broward County to relieve congestion around Ft. Lauderdale. So far, the $1.8 billion project has been a major success, shaving years off the state’s project timeline and coming in $275 million under budget.
Further south, the cities of Miami and Miami Beach, working with Miami-Dade County, are considering a P3 to build a passenger rail link between the two communities. Although the current plan is in its infancy, the project has been talked about for many years and almost got off the ground in 2004 at a cost of $480 million. It’s now become the county’s top priority transit initiative and studies suggest a P3 delivery could result in a lower cost to build and a faster delivery. Estimates suggest that the project could cost as little as $532 million, not much over the cost estimates anticipated 10 years ago.
Alternative deliveries such as P3s, Design-Build and Design-Build-Operate-Maintain are no panacea. There are times, situations and projects where traditional delivery methods still work best. All methods of delivering construction projects create valuable jobs needed to keep the economy moving forward. But for states like California to remain competitive, they must embrace innovation, creativity and global best practices. Design-build and P3s must be part of the solution.