Combining resources: public-private partnerships emerge as an innovative transportation financing tool.

Author:Miziolek, Aleksandra A.

On September 23rd, just as the fate of Lehman Brothers was being determined and the extent of our global financial crisis was becoming painfully clearer, national and state leaders met in Detroit at the Inaugural Michigan P3 Summit to discuss solutions to Michigan's growing infrastructure needs. Michigan is certainly not alone in having to grapple with aging infrastructure and growing congestion while facing a decline in tax revenue funding sources. Fortunately, the Michigan Transportation Funding Task Force (TF2) created earlier this year under Act No. 221, Public Acts of 2007 had been working all year on studying the alternatives to transportation funding based on fuel taxes and is poised to recommend alternative revenue collection systems in a preliminary report that was due October 31, 2008.

One such alternative, utilized in countries all over the world and now by a majority of states in the U. S. is that of public-private partnerships. As Tom Madison, recently confirmed Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration at the US Department of Transportation, pointed out at the Summit, P3s enable public entities to benefit from the ingenuity of the private sector while at the same time taking advantage of the many federal funding programs available to improve the transportation infrastructure landscape. Having recognized the growing acceptance of P3s as an important tool in the tool box of innovative financing, the Michigan Department of Treasury recently established the Office of Public-Private Partnerships for the purpose of providing an integrated approach to the State's P3 activities.


Michigan has now laid the groundwork for a systematic approach to addressing our transportation funding needs. Assuming the TF2 recognizes the value of pursuing P3s as one alternative for bridging the gap created by our dwindling gas tax revenues, the next step many P3 experts recommend is the enactment of comprehensive P3 legislation for Michigan. Many states have gone...

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