U.S. Surface Transportation Public-Private Partnerships: Objectives and Evidence


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Lisardo Bolaños
Morghan Transue
Porter Wheeler
Jonathan L. Gifford

Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership Policy
Schar School of Policy & Government
George Mason University
3351 N. Fairfax Drive MS3B1
Arlington, VA 22201 U.S.A.

Effective public-private partnership (P3) policy evaluations must acknowledge the multiple and varied reasons why public agencies pursue alternative procurement approaches. While economic efficiency typically ranks high among evaluation criteria, it rarely represents a public agency’s sole or primary P3 objective. As a result, the following research conducts six U.S. surface transportation P3 case studies to identify the objectives pursued and the evidence available for effectiveness evaluations. The case findings demonstrate that the studied agencies pursued 1) private sector funding and financing; 2) private sector expertise and innovation; 3) accelerated project delivery; 4) cost, schedule, and quality certainty; 5) risk transfer and management; and 6) broader transit and development opportunities. The public agencies largely achieved these goals but might benefit by a) pursuing private-sector expertise and innovation earlier; b) elevating risk transfer objectives; c) incorporating broader transit, local development, and value capture opportunities; and d) improving outcome measurement, analysis, and transparency practices.

The current report is part of the Center for Transportation Public Private Partnership Policy project on P3 Evidence. The report received support from the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC), (award no. 11120010). The researchers particularly appreciate Nossaman’s Geoffrey Yarema for his guidance in developing the project. All errors are the responsibility of the authors.

The final report can be downloaded here.

For questions, please contact Jonathan Gifford at jgifford@gmu.edu.