SAN JOSÉ, CA – October 21, 2020 – The ongoing debate over American infrastructure frequently passes the responsibility between the public and private sectors. Private sector advocates point to the vast economic resources available and to successful projects such as the Brightline high-speed rail in Florida. Others, however, argue that private control of public infrastructure could lead to high user costs and possibly even poor construction for the sake of maximizing profits. The latest Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) perspective, Public Equity to Match Private Investment in Infrastructure, offers an alternative: a federal grant program to match private investment.
This perspective explores the details of whether private-sector funding could bridge the financial gap to many projects and how to potentially balance the public-private partnerships.
This balance could be achieved with public sponsors setting minimum construction and operating standards and developers evaluating proposals based on costs from private investment. This proposed method could enable the funding of critical projects such as:
The new Gateway rail tunnels under the Hudson River to replace the 100-year old North River Tunnels;
California High-Speed Rail Project from the Central Valley to Los Angeles and San Francisco;
High speed train from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland;
Extending XpressWest’s proposed line from Las Vegas to Los Angeles; and
Advancing express rail connectors from city centers to international airports.
Perspective author, Karen Hedlund, explains, “Neither the public nor the private sector can do it alone. Instead, together they can build new and modern infrastructure and revive America’s old highways, ports, rail, and transit to bring the nation’s transportation systems into the 21st century.”
Combining public and private financing through a federal grant program to match private contributions could lead to the completion of long sought-after projects and the creation of innovative new projects to make our nation’s transportation system more efficient, more equitable, and more environmentally-focused to connect us all, now and in the years to come.
ABOUT THE MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE
At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nations’ transportation system. Through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer, we help create a connected world. MTI was founded in 1991 and is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Hedlund is former Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
MTI Communications and Operations Manager