Using Public-Private partnerships to Carry Out Highway Projects
The United States has a network of over 4 million miles of public roads. That system has faced increasing demands over time: The number of vehicle miles traveled (both passenger and commercial) rose from approximately 700 billion in 1960 to just under 3 trillion in 2009. In 2010, the federal government and state and local governments spent about $160 billion to build, operate, and maintain roads. (This study adopts the practice of the Federal Highway Administration in using the words “highway” and “road” synonymously.) Almost all of those infrastructure projects were undertaken using a traditional approach in which a state or local government assumes most of the responsibility for carrying out a project and bears most of its risks, such as the possibility of cost overruns, delays in the construction schedule, and, in the case of toll roads, shortfalls in the road’s revenues. Some observers assert that an alternative approach, using a public-private partnership, could increase the money available for highway projects and complete the work more quickly or at a lower cost than is possible through the traditional method.
Transportation projects are priority for Gov. Dayton
The governor’s wish list for transportation in the legislative session includes money for a third light rail line, bridge repair, and transit in greater Minnesota. But Republican transportation leaders have different priorities. Gov. Mark Dayton’s says his $775 million bonding proposal would create more than 21,000 jobs. His proposal would finance projects through the sale of state-backed bonds repaid with interest over 20 years. Proposed state help gives push to $1.25B Southwest light rail.
Plans to build the Southwest Corridor light-rail transit line, which would connect Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, are gaining momentum.Gov. Mark Dayton recently recommended $25 million of his $775 million proposed bonding bill for construction of the 15-mile line. The line would connect with the Hiawatha and Central Corridor lines, as well as the Northstar commuter rail line by Target Field. The Metropolitan Council estimates it will attract 30,000 riders per weekday by 2030.
Final Bottineau Corridor route expected by May
By May, people living along the proposed Bottineau Transitway should know exactly where a new transit system will run through their cities if construction begins as planned in 2016. They’ll also find out whether buses or trains will be whizzing by on roads or rails.This week and next, however, Bottineau planners are still taking the pulse of the public at a series of four open houses. They are also listening to the Minneapolis-based Target Corp., which recently added a new twist to the Bottineau route when it beefed up its expansion plans for its northern campus near Highway 610 and 97th Avenue in Brooklyn Park.
I-90 bridge plans draw curiosity and criticism
Transportation officials unveiled designs for a new Interstate 90 bridge over the Mississippi River on Wednesday, when about 60 people weighed in on the project at a public meeting.It was the beginning of the end of a planning process that has lasted more than four years and will result in a bridge expected to last a century. The Minnesota Depart-ment of Transportation is responsible for the 2,500-foot span that stretches from below the lock and dam to a causeway west of French Island, though Wisconsin will share half of the estimated $190 million cost. MnDOT plans to seek bids for the bridge in the fall with construction lasting through 2016.
A rocky first year for St. Paul Central Corridor construction
The first year of major construction on a future light-rail line in St. Paul suffered from communication lapses, haphazard planning, and inattention to community concerns — and that’s according to the government agency that manages the project. Hundreds of documents examined by MPR News show the magnitude of performance problems associated with building the St. Paul portion of the massive Central Corridor transit system connecting to Minneapolis.
Light-rail construction lags on campus
Complications with construction on the Central Corridor light-rail project have caused contractors to miss major deadlines in the University of Minnesota campus area. Although the light-rail project is 40 percent complete overall, construction around campus is actually behind, forcing the Metropolitan Council and Ames/McCrossan Joint Venture — the contractor team building the Minneapolis portion of the line — to push some deadlines further into 2012.
Court’s concerns don’t halt Central Corridor light rail
A federal judge ruled on Monday that agencies overseeing construction of the Central Corridor light-rail line failed to conduct a study he ordered a year ago on its impact on adjacent businesses. District Judge Donovan Frank again instructed the agencies to conduct the study, saying their previous effort “was deficient in its consideration of lost business revenue.” Frank denied a move by construction critics to halt the line until the study is completed. “The court continues to hope that all parties involved can approach future discussions or negotiations reasonably and with the goal of achieving a resolution,” he wrote. Frank noted that studying the impact on businesses is critical to providing future aid to any businesses whose revenues were hurt.
Senate passes St. Croix Bridge bill
The long-debated St. Croix River Crossing moved a step closer to reality Monday night when the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s bipartisan bill allowing a new span to be constructed between Minnesota and Wisconsin.Now the fate of the project lies with the U.S. House of Representatives, where a similar St. Croix bridge bill sponsored by Rep. Michele Bachmann that has bipartisan support awaits action. Klobuchar’s bill allowing construction of a proposed $690 million four-lane bridge over the St. Croix River won unanimous passage in the Senate, where it was co-sponsored by Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.). Both Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Wis. Gov. Scott Walker support the measure, Klobuchar noted in a news release after the vote.
Never heard of Houlton, Wis.? Wait for the new Stillwater bridge
Most people would laugh at the idea of Houlton, Wis., being a boom town, if they have even heard of it. But if a new four-lane, freeway-style bridge is built across the St. Croix River, a surge of growth is bound to follow. Perhaps the biggest change would come to Houlton, a community of 386 not even big enough for a stop sign on its main street. The bridge project got a boost Monday, when the U.S. Senate unanimously voted to exempt it from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. It still needs an exemption from the U.S. House.
State plans to have private firm rebuild, run I-95 travel plazas
The two travel plazas on Interstate 95 north of Baltimore will be rebuilt and operated by a private company that will share revenue with the state under a plan approved Monday by the Maryland Transportation Authority’s board.The deal to have Areas USA spend $56 million to redesign and rebuild the 48-year-old Maryland House and 36-year-old Chesapeake House rest stops will move to the state Board of Public Works and the General Assembly for review and approval.
Studies to look at western ND infrastructure needs
North Dakota agencies are updating studies that projected the growing infrastructure needs of western communities. Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson tells said both transportation and housing studies will be updated. He says it’s necessary because of the growing oil activity and the stress on infrastructure in the region. Anderson says a 20-year transportation study that was done two years ago already needs updating.
Public College, Private Dorm
With state budgets tight and demand for a college education at a high point, public universities across the country are increasingly turning to the private sector to build and finance on-campus dormitories. Even before the recession, states found that companies that specialize in student housing could build residence halls more rapidly and cheaply than universities could. They can ease the burden of being a landlord. And perhaps most important, these partnerships free capital for facilities like classrooms and laboratories.