Welcome to the Alternative Transportation Finance Newsletter!
By Phil Barnes
The objective of this newsletter is to provide updates about ongoing challenges, successes, current issues and policy debates in the world of Alternative Transportation Finance. Through this newsletter, we will update readers on MnDOT’s current ATF projects and offer commentary on opportunities and challenges in this new and exciting field.
Although it is not a “silver bullet” for funding woes, ATF is likely to play an increasingly prominent role in helping to finance Minnesota’s future transportation needs — which, as we recently learned, are significant. According to the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee established by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2012, transportation funding in Minnesota is projected to fall short by $21.2 billion over the next 20 years — and that’s just if we want to maintain the status quo. In order to create a world-class, economically competitive transportation system, TFAC found that the state will need an additional $50.6 billion to $56.1 billion in new revenue over that same amount of time.
Alternative finance techniques and public-private partnerships (P3) won’t fill this funding gap by themselves, but they can certainly be a part of the solution. MnDOT defines ATF broadly as “any strategy that uses a new or non-traditional transportation funding source or financing technique, as well as any existing funding source or financing technique in a new way, to deliver projects more expeditiously and cost-effectively.” On its face, ATF is easily one of the most complex and humbling subjects to understand and implement. We hope to dispel some of the mystery and help make ATF a real and lasting part of Minnesota’s transportation finance future.
Since the beginning of my 10-year career as a federal and state transportation professional, I have seen other professionals looking for new and innovative ways to fund transportation needs while protecting the public interest. It is an honor to help meet Minnesota’s transportation funding challenges and enhance economic development opportunities by leading the ATF flagship initiative. I, along with Matt Shands, the Transportation Economic Development director, will focus on raising new private and localized capital, developing financing techniques and process, and engaging in new P3 approaches that facilitate sustainable economic development, leverage state dollars and create construction jobs.
I sincerely hope that transportation stakeholders enjoy the ATF updates, commentary and our effort to communicate about innovations in transportation funding. Please feel free to contact us about ideas for transportation projects, submit short articles for the newsletter, and to collaborate on transportation innovation.
Thanks for reading,
Philip E. Barnes IV
Assistant Director, Alternative Transportation Finance Lead
Office of Policy Analysis, Research, and Innovation
Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)
395 John Ireland Blvd., M.S. 670
St. Paul, MN 55155
MnDOT Alternative Finance Services
Transportation Economic Development (TED) Program