U.S. infrastructure, from our roads and bridges to our courthouses and water systems, is in great need of investment. So the White House’s recent effort to increase private sector participation in public infrastructure projects through Build America, a government-wide initiative to increase collaborative infrastructure investment and economic growth, is an encouraging step towards increasing public-private partnerships in the U.S. – and I’m looking forward to further P3 announcements that I’m expecting President Obama to address tonight during the State of the Union address.
As you may know, in a P3, public money is leveraged with private investment to fast-track critical projects, for which the long-term responsibility to maintain that infrastructure falls to private partners. Skanska is currently working on two of the nation’s largest P3s – Elizabeth River Tunnels in Virginia and I-4 Ultimate in Florida. Both these projects will help transform transportation and accessibility in their respective regions, while generating many well-paying jobs. P3s are a leading way to get major infrastructure done in our country today.
The Skanska-led consortium behind Orlando’s I-4 Ultimate public-private partnership project will widen and reconstruct 21 miles of interstate highway, greatly improving that region’s mobility.
Initiatives like Build America are a positive indication that the federal government supports states, municipalities and private enterprises that work collaboratively to create partnerships that benefit the American public by improving core infrastructure. In a fact sheet released on Friday that previews some of what President Obama might address in his State of the Union address tonight, the White House laid out new steps that federal agencies are taking to bring private sector capital and expertise to help improve U.S. roads, bridges, ports and drinking water systems. These steps include a new Water Finance Center at the Environmental Protection Agency, driving the Rural Opportunity Investment Initiative at the Department of Agriculture and leveling the playing field for municipalities seeking P3s by proposing the creation of a new kind of municipal bond, Qualified Public Infrastructure Bonds, so that governments can more easily work with the private sector to advance the public interest. All these efforts will go a long way to helping get more P3 projects off the ground.
Now and into the future, P3s will be essential for fixing our crumbling infrastructure. There is such a tremendous need for repair and little public money to pay for it, and meanwhile there’s plenty of private money on the sidelines waiting to be invested.
These latest initiatives to boost P3s hopefully generate many critical projects and elevate the conversation in Washington to find creative, alternate solutions to simply raising taxes or doing nothing.