Delivering Transportation Infrastructure Through Public-Private Partnerships: Planning Concerns

Although public-private partnerships (PPPs) are becoming increasingly popular as means of delivering large-scale transportation infrastructure, it is unclear what implications this model of project delivery has for planning theory and practice. This paper develops a set of criteria on which to evaluate the procedural, spatial, design, public policy, and political implications of these PPPs from a planning perspective. Three case studies of transportation projects delivered through such PPPs are examined in detail to determine if the proposed benefits of PPS are matched by real-world experiences. The three projects considered are the Croydon Tramlink in London, UK; the State Route 91 toll lanes in Orange County, CA; and the Cross City Tunnel in Sydney, Australia. Findings suggest that the short-term and long-term impacts of such PPPs on infrastructure project delivery were different. In the short term, the model was effective at raising funds for new facilities and transferring financial risks to the private sector. However, its limited transparency minimized meaningful community engagement in project planning. Over the longer term, noncompetition clauses in the concession agreements restricted government flexibility to respond to changing conditions. Lawsuits were common as relationships between the partners deteriorated, and all three concessions were ultimately sold under duress, two to public sector agencies. In order to prevent similar negative consequences from PPPs in the transportation sector, new ex ante evaluation tools, risk transfer mechanisms, community engagement processes, and data tracking and performance monitoring procedures are needed.


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  • Accession Number: 01153335
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 30 2010 3:31PM