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New major project draft guidance is enhanced to encourage evaluation of public-private partnerships

By ATF Staff

The Federal Highway Administration does more than encourage the consideration of public-private partnerships (P3s) in the development of transportation improvements; now, all financial plans for major projects (projects that exceed $100 million in capital costs) will require a P3 evaluation. In the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Congress amended financial plan guidance to allow “phased” project plans, and required financial plans to include consideration of the appropriateness of using a P3.

FHWA also issued a question-and-answer guidance summarizing MAP-21 changes of which MnDOT has taken advantage. Overall, MnDOT appreciates the opportunity to provide public comments, which can be found here. Submitted comments addressed consistency in the process for evaluating financial plans and approval and the clarity of requirements for project between $100 million and $500 million.

AASHTO also submitted comments on the draft guidance. Overall, AASHTO supports the issuance of guidance to clarify the financial plan for major projects, and welcomes “phased” projects as part of the financial plan. AASHTO also concurs with MnDOT’s suggestions regarding clarity in consistency and clarity of definitions and roles.

FHWA continues to suggest that early and more involvement by the private sector can bring creativity, efficiency and capital to address complex transportation problems facing state and local governments. Beyond financial plan guidance, FHWA has provided information and expertise in the use of different P3 evaluation tools as well as assistance in using tools including the SEP-15 program, private activity bonds (PABs) and the TIFIA Federal credit program to facilitate P3 projects.

“These P3 toolkits look very good and include analytical tools and guidance documents to assist in educating MnDOT policymakers, legislative and executive staff, and transportation professionals in the implementation of P3 projects. I look forward to using them as educational tools as we explore P3s in Minnesota,” said Alternative Transportation Finance Director Phil Barnes.

Posted 11/1/2013

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