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SACRAMENTO, CALIF.—The American Council of Engineering Companies of California (ACEC California) released a white paper examining the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs or P3s) in delivering new infrastructure projects and upgrading California’s aging existing infrastructure.

"Public-Private Partnerships: Creating Tomorrow’s Infrastructure" provides an overview of California’s current infrastructure crisis and explores how other countries such as India, Mexico, Australia, and the United Kingdom are embracing PPPs as an effective method for renewing, creating, or maintaining roads, rail systems, bridges, dams, levees, wastewater systems, and other infrastructure vital to their continued economic development. One key finding of the paper is that common to all these countries is a commitment to provide broad authority to the government agencies and the public sector to engage in public-private partnerships.

"It’s clear to us that California’s economic future relies on our state’s ability to create a climate favorable to investment in new infrastructure and the upkeep of existing infrastructure," said ACEC California President Bill Green. "If the state fails to do this, it can potentially jeopardize the safety of California’s citizens and almost certainly have a negative impact on the state’s economy."

For example, the new white paper revealed that Australia has already estimated it is experiencing $6 billion a year in lost production as a result of a lack of public spending on infrastructure during the last 60 years.
"Given California’s gross domestic product is roughly three times that of Australia, and given the similar shortfall in spending here in the last few decades, it wouldn’t surprise us if California is losing $15 billion or more a year in production as a direct result of its clearly inadequate infrastructure," Green said.

Green pointed to recent studies suggesting that Doyle Drive, a main artery linking downtown San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County, carries a far weaker structural sufficiency rating than the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed in August 2007. It has been projected that serious structural failure along Doyle Drive would create serious problems for commuters that would have traffic repercussions far outside the city and would also hurt the city’s tourist sector.

"For years we’ve heard the tired and slanted arguments from public sector lobbyists that public private partnerships don’t work because they cost too much. The reality is that properly structured and overseen PPPs have been proven more often than not to deliver major infrastructure projects on time, under budget, and to very high standards," Green explained.

"Public-Private Partnerships: Creating Tomorrow’s Infrastructure," is available in the "Research Center" section under the "Education" tab of the ACEC California’s website at www.acec-ca.org, along with other PPP-related materials. ACEC California, formerly named the Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors of California (CELSOC), is a statewide association representing more than 1,100 private consulting engineering and land-surveying firms.

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