TxDOT, public agencies officially take-up lobbying for PPPs on taxpayer dime

For Immediate Release

New Public-Private Coalition Strives to Transform U.S. Transportation System in 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 5, 2008) – An unprecedented alliance of regional and state government, finance, academic and private industry leaders today announced the formation of a new coalition that will strive to transform the nation’s transportation system in 2009 utilizing a combination of public and private-sector solutions.

The creation of the Transportation Transformation Group – also known as the T2 – was announced by former U.S. House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt; Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey of HNTB Companies, former Commander-In-Chief of the U.S. Southern Forces Command and Cabinet-level director of the White House Drug “Czar” Policy Office; Texas Transportation Commissioner Ned Holmes; Dr. Joseph M. Giglio, Senior Academic Specialist and Executive Professor of General Management at Northeastern University in Boston; and Washington, D.C-based Pollster Thomas Riehle during a news conference at the National Press Club.

“It’s about time we add a fresh set of ideas to the transportation policy debate,” said Gephardt, representing T2 member Goldman Sachs. “If we don’t, communities across America will continue to be plagued by increased traffic congestion, deteriorating roads and bridges, safety issues and air pollution – all of which have an effect on our quality of life and our prosperity.”

The coalition’s goals include educating Americans about the benefits of new transportation delivery options and garnering support for innovative financing techniques as a part of a diverse strategy that will meet America’s transportation needs today and in the future.

Next year the U.S. Highway Trust Fund is expected to go bankrupt. Coalition members agree the way federal transportation funding is allocated needs to change.

“T2 supports the transformation of American transportation policy, not just a reauthorization of current policies,” said McCaffrey, who serves on the board of directors of T2 member HNTB Companies, one of the most prominent engineering, architecture and planning firms in the nation. “We believe that future investment should be closely examined, system planning should be performance-based, and that Congress must establish a long-range vision of surface transportation that considers all modes of moving people and goods around the country.”

Prior to considering any increase in the federal gasoline tax, coalition members urge Congress to enable states to employ business strategies and innovative finance techniques that help meet the nation’s transportation goals. That may include tolling, congestion pricing, HOT lanes, vehicle miles traveled pricing, and the full range of other public private partnership mechanisms that bring additional resources to bear in solving their transportation challenges. The business strategy must also include a focus on customer service that emphasizes reduced door-to-door travel time, greater travel time reliability, and smoother transition between various modes of transportation.

“We should spend better, not simply spend more,” Gephardt said. “We need to move forward from a system that has served our nation well for 50 years but falls short in addressing the challenges of the next 50 years. We need a federal program that sets meaningful goals and frees states, regions and localities to reach them through innovations in design, delivery and finance.”

T2 members represent both urban and rural constituencies, and support the need to provide transportation investment in both urban and rural areas. The coalition believes that local and regional leaders should be responsible for resolving transportation problems that are local and regional in nature. They should have maximum flexibility to make local and regional decisions.

“If states are given latitude to innovate, then it is possible to adequately sustain rural areas that rely heavily on fuel taxes for their needs,” said Holmes. “For instance, if metropolitan areas can raise and capture user-based revenue, it protects fuel tax supported maintenance and connectivity initiatives in rural regions. Innovative procurement reform has the potential to reduce costs and delivery times.”

In addition, the future transportation system should aggressively advance the adoption of new intelligent transportation system technologies, while maintaining the flexibility to adapt to emerging technologies.

A recent nationwide survey shows while the public does not yet perceive a “traffic crisis” in most parts of America, 59 percent express at least some concern about traffic problems in their area (rating traffic problems as a 4 or more on a 0-to-10 scale), and majorities say traffic has gotten worse over the past five years and will get worse in the next five years.

“Transportation is rarely rated as a crisis because most Americans deal with the problem by heaving a sigh, resigning to the inevitable and leaving for work a little earlier. Yet, solving the problem is a silent prerequisite for achieving many of America’s economic and social goals. T2 aspires to advance the dialogue by helping educate the public on the availability of innovative solutions that improve the daily lives of Americans,” said Giglio, senior academic specialist and executive professor of General Management at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., and author of the book, ““Driving Questions: Developing a National Transportation Vision.”

An overwhelming majority of Americans (73 percent) oppose a $1 per gallon increase in fuel taxes as recommended by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, even if the money were to be used only for transportation projects. Fifty-eight percent would favor allowing governments to partner with private sector companies who have access to investment and technology to help finance, construct and operate transportation projects.

The results of the survey, conducted by the polling firm RT Strategies in Washington, D.C., between April 17 and 20, were unveiled at the coalition kick-off event. A total of 1,000 respondents were interviewed. The margin of error for the data collected was +/- 3.5 percent.

T2 will serve as an umbrella group under which disparate organizations and interests who share a desire for safe and efficient transportation policies can unite. There are 20 founding members of the coalition from across the nation, including Texas and Florida – two of the nation’s most populous states – as well as Indiana and Utah, known innovators in transportation planning strategies.

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About T2
The Transportation Transformation Group (T2) is a coalition of state government, finance, academic and private industry leaders who aspire to transform American transportation policy into a goal-based arrangement that maximizes flexibility to enhance the roles of the state and local public sectors and their private partners to solve the growing problems of congestion and mobility. To learn more about T2, visit the coalition’s Web site at >www.trans2group.com.

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Who We Are

The Transportation Transformation Group is an unprecedented alliance of state government, finance, academic and private industry leaders who aspire to transform American transportation policy into a goal-based arrangement that maximizes flexibility to enhance the roles of the state and local public sectors and their private partners to solve the growing problems of congestion and mobility.

Banc of America Securities LLC
Econolite Group, Inc.
Goldman, Sachs & Co.
HNTB Corp.
JP Morgan
MARKIV Industries
Morgan Stanley
Northeastern University
Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott LLP
TCB AECOM
Pioneer Institute
Reason Foundation
The Office of Governor Mitch Daniels
The Office of Governor Rick Perry
Port of Houston
Florida Department of Transportation
Indiana Department of Transportation
North Texas Tollway Authority
Texas Department of Transportation
Utah Department of Transportation

One Reply to “TxDOT, public agencies officially take-up lobbying for PPPs on taxpayer dime”

  1. Harry O'Bryant

    A number of years ago, as I understand 170 million plus dollars was spent on the highway system around San Antonio, Texas to develop a system of “Smart Highway” signage. At the time, I was appalled, by the lack of “one dollar” being spent towards getting folks off of the roads through the numerous means that can be developed by “thinking administrators”. My thoughts were why not have employers and government develop systems that allow/promote alternate work sites away from congested downtown areas, a greater incentives for car pooling, and flex time work schedules to name a few. Along with this, and something you have already thought of, is of course the improved public transportation system with incentives to attract the consumers on a much improved scale than currently offered in San Antonio and other cities. Thank you T2 for taking my comments and I wish you well in this very, very impportant endeavor!

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