Saturday, December 23, 2006

Private Road Builders

Great idea, gets done what the public sector often takes way too long to complete (remember the job our own CC Myers did down south after the earthquake?), but is more a comment on the poor public leadership on infrastructure over the past several decades than anything else.

Governor wants private deals to aid road projects
By Kevin Yamamura - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, December 23, 2006

Voters approved the largest public works bonds in state history last month, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants even more money for roads and public buildings in California.

The Republican governor is searching for ways to enlist private firms to help build projects throughout the state, leveraging $37.3 billion in voter-approved bonds to generate billions of dollars more in private investments.

The most recognizable forms of such agreements, known as public-private partnerships, occur in the form of toll roads such as those constructed in Southern California to relieve freeway congestion. The partnerships have been used more commonly in other states and in Europe.

Private companies, however, require a profitable rate of return for their construction investment. That means users or the state would have to pay fees over time as compensation.

"California's infrastructure is so broken and so dilapidated that the need is obviously in the billions of dollars," said Schwarzenegger communications director Adam Mendelsohn. "There have to be innovative ways to go out and repair this crumbling infrastructure, and public-private partnerships are an opportunity to create market-based solutions to meet this critical infrastructure need."