WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Transportation
(DOT) recently provided model legislation that would give states flexibility to contract with the private sector to invest in and manage transportation projects. The model legislation is based on a survey of existing state laws that authorize public-private partnerships in building, owning, or operating highways, mass transit, railroads, airports, seaports, or other transportation infrastructure.
"The growing stranglehold that congestion is placing on Americas transportation network calls for new ways of financing and maintaining our critical transportation infrastructure," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters. "This model legislation will help to ensure that states are in a position to tap into the billions of dollars that the private sector and lenders have amassed to invest in transportation."

According to DOT, the legislation is a starting point from which states can proceed to craft laws that are most appropriate for their unique needs, and provides useful guidance on what a public-private partnership agreement might look like. Issues addressed by the model legislation include which modes of transportation would be eligible for private investment, whether or when tolls may be collected, innovative procurement methods, upkeep requirements for leased roads, and provisions to be considered in an agreement with the private sector.

Peters noted that 21 states and Puerto Rico already have at least some legal ability to use public-private partnerships. However, many of those laws provide limited or project-specific authority. Broad authority will also give states the opportunity to take advantage of various federal tools and pilot programs now available under SAFETEA-LU and the recently created congestion initiative.

The model legislation is available on online at www.fhwa.dot.gov/ppp/legislation.htm.