Miami port P3 a springboard for Obama plan

President Barack Obama cited the Port of Miami Tunnel P3 as emblematic of his infrastructure plan.

Location, location, location: if the chief executive of America is going to give a speech arguing for greater embrace of private investment in public infrastructure, then the Port of Miami Tunnel (POMT) is a good place to give it.

US President Barack Obama called on Congress to back his proposal to create a national infrastructure bank and to free up $4 billion in additional debt financing while speaking after touring the POMT, a $900 million public-private partnership (PPP or P3). 

Citing “this tunnel I just saw” as a jumping-off place Obama, in a widely televised speech Friday, hailed investment in infrastructure as a job creator, noting that “rebuilding infrastructure” can “strengthen our economy over the long haul.

“There is work to be done, there are [people] who are ready to do it,” the president said. “What are we waiting for?”  

The POMT project reached financial close in 2009 with the $1.6 billion Interstate 595 (I-595) Corridor Improvement Project – the first ever P3 in America to use an availability payment structure – also in Florida.

Obama incorporated rebuilding and repairing infrastructure in the US as a theme of his 2008 run for the White House, and pitched creating a $10 billion national infrastructure bank in his 2011 State of the Union address. 

Now Obama, winning a second term as president in 2012, has begun to allude to partnering with the private sector to tend to the US infrastructure gap.

Friday, he again talked up his ‘Partnership to Rebuild America,’ concept, while calling on the federal government to free up $4 billion for what he termed ‘America Fast Forward Bonds,’ that would help attract private capital.

POMT, according to Obama, served as a good template for how America should be tackling infrastructure.

“What Miami has been doing is a good example of how my plan would work,” he said, calling the project jointly funded. “Everybody had some skin in the game. We can do this all over the country”.