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Washington State weighs potential PPPs

The Northwestern US state is considering five potential roads public-private partnerships. The state’s joint transportation committee has issued an RFP for a consultant to produce a report on those projects by early 2012.

Washington is looking for a consultant to advise on potential public-private partnerships (PPPs) across the state, according to a document published by the state's Joint Transportation Committee.

Washington is facing statewide infrastructure investment needs of $175 billion to $200 billion over the next 20 years, and is “interested in examining  alternative financing approaches”, according to a request for proposals (RFP) for PPP consulting services.  Those approaches could include PPPs.

The consultant will conduct a study of five roads projects that the state is considering pursuing under the PPP model.  The study will include an evaluation of “statutory, constitutional, financial, institutional, political or other barriers” to implementing the five projects as PPPs, as well as educating legislators about PPPs and developing financing models, according to the RFP.

The consultant will produce a report on the five projects by the beginning of 2012, according to a tentative schedule. Proposals are due at the end of the month, and the Joint Transportation Committee expects to select a consultant by mid-June.

The five roads include an express toll lanes project and a corridor improvement project, as well as construction of an extension of the SR-167 freeway near Tacoma. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Tacoma freeway extension is facing a funding shortfall of $2 billion.

Other potential PPPs include the construction of a bypass in Monroe, Washington, for which the state has completed preliminary designs, but does not have funding.

One of the projects, the Columbia River Crossing, is jointly sponsored by the transportation departments of Washington and Oregon, which implemented a PPP programme in 2006.

Several US states have also begun to adopt various PPP models in recent years. Georgia has begun to procure at least three PPPs, and Governor Nathan Deal last week signed into law a bill permitting water infrastructure PPPs.  And in March, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a $6.8 billion transportation budget that includes provision for PPPs.