Public Private Partnerships in Transportation
Establishing Guidelines for a Public-Private Transportation Act
This year, we have repeatedly discussed the need for Fairfax County to explore new and innovative approaches to transportation. However, we have not answered the question of where these new approaches will come from. Certainly, we cannot rely solely on our government agencies to develop every new transportation idea. Similarly, we cannot rely solely on government dollars to fund every new transportation program. We need to tap into the ingenuity and creativity of the private sector, and have it join the government in the search for innovative transportation solutions. One method of doing this is through public-private partnerships.
With the passage of the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995, localities throughout Virginia were afforded the opportunity to engage with private entities on a variety of transportation projects. To take advantage of this opportunity, however, state law requires that jurisdictions first adopt a set of guidelines, which among other things dictate how solicited or unsolicited public-private proposals would be accepted. To name just a few, Prince William, Loudoun, Stafford and Spotsylvania counties have all adopted such guidelines and can accept and act on PPTA proposals. Prince William has made use of this ability to complete a project on Sudley Manor Drive and is currently making improvements along Route 15. Likewise, Spotsylvania County is improving County Secondary Roads utilizing the PPTA for 16 individual projects, valued at a combined total of $90 million. In Fairfax, we have developed guidelines under the PPTA’s sister program for education, the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002. It is now time to join our neighbors and develop guidelines under the PPTA.
Adopting a set of PPTA guidelines will not cure all that ails us, but that’s not the point. We have recognized the need to shoulder a greater portion of the responsibility for transportation and PPTA guidelines would add another tool to that effort. This tool could lead to innovative proposals that would be funded by private sources, helping us meet our transportation goals without increasing government spending. We are all familiar with the Hot Lanes, which is a state PPTA project. Let’s move forward with our own PPTA for Fairfax County.
Therefore Madame Chairman, I move that staff be directed to develop guidelines for accepting proposals under the PPTA. I further move that these draft guidelines be submitted to the Transportation Committee for further review and discussion at the earliest opportunity.