Pennsylvania: PPP bill a near done deal

On the back of a load of legislation, Pennsylvania is set to become a leader in privatization. A pro-PPP bill, HB3, has gotten the go-ahead.

Transportation-based infrastructure in Pennsylvania can now count on help from friends in high places.

A bill that let the Keystone State accept private investment in public bridges and roads was approved last week. State lawmakers voted 128 to 66 to advance a bill that would set up a framework for deals with private groups from across the continent to fund work on roads and bridges.

If approved, a seven-member board would be created to review toll road concessions.

The bill – HB3 – would exclude handing over the Pennsylvania Turnpike barring legislative approval. That plan was championed by once-Pennsylvania governor Edward “Ed” Rendell, who tried to establish a toll road concession.

House transportation committee chairman Rick Geist, a Republican, labeled HB3 a jobs bill. He said it would put people back to work as the state rebuilds roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Geist has supported current governor Tom Corbett, who bolstered public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a productive way to improve transportation infrastructure statewide.

Pennsylvania in February began moving HB3 through the state senate. The bill had proved divisive among state lawmakers.

Pennsylvania last tried its hand at transport PPPs in 2008, when a consortium led by Spanish developer Abertis offered $12.8 billion for a 75-year concession of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.