Transportation Public-Private Partnerships: Challenges of Transparency and Accountability

Source: Wendell Carrier Lawther, PA Times, March 18, 2013

Many recent studies and reports identify a huge backlog of infrastructure projects that need to be completed in the United States. One example of this backlog is estimated by the American Civil Engineering Society who projects that three trillion dollars per year will be needed to fix all of the bridges and roadways, as well as build new, needed infrastructure to lessen traffic congestion and ease the movement of goods and people. The issue facing public policymakers is how to pay for these needs, especially at a time when the total debt of U.S. state and local governments is estimated at $7.3 trillion. Compounding the challenges is the still widely accepted feeling that “roads are free,” along with public recognition that congestion is a problem, but no alternative revenue source—e.g. gasoline tax, vehicle miles traveled tax, or tolls—to pay for solving this problem is widely accepted….