More than 200 private sector transportation design and construction executives, state legislators, and public agency officials came together in the Nation’s Capital July 16-18 to discuss the future of innovation transportation finance at ARTBA 26th Annual Public-Private Partnerships (P3) Conference.

The conference’s signature sessions included: a “debate” comparing and contrasting the merits of the demand (tolling-based) model vs. the availability payment model for P3 projects; an exclusive P3 “Owners Only Meeting,” where state and local DOT officials compared notes on the status of P3s and other innovative finance issues; and a P3 update led by key representatives from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Other plenary and breakout sessions featuring more than 50 industry speakers covered such topics as: MAP-21 and model P3 agreements; the draft FHWA P3 “Best Practices Guide;” the development of transportation P3 research focused on political risk, P3 governance and P3 data needs; the use of Alternative Technical Concepts; market opportunities in airport P3s; and legal and risk issues in pursuing P3s.  Several state legislators participated in the program, including State Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Oregon), president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In the opening session, U.S. DOT Acting Under Secretary for Policy Peter Rogoff, previewed President Obama’s executive action intended to facilitate transportation P3 development.  Rogoff also expressed his department’s continued commitment to environmental streamlining, as well as reform of the TIFIA loan process.  He noted the Administration GROW AMERICA surface transportation reauthorization proposal was based on the need to accommodate an additional 100 million America citizens and a doubling of freight traffic in coming decades.

Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-Tenn.), chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s P3 Panel, noted that body had completed its schedule of roundtable hearings and planned to issue recommendations on P3 policy in the coming months.  Several ARTBA members have participated in these sessions since the panel’s formation in February.

The event also featured a panel of House and Senate staff discussing the reauthorization of the surface transportation program (MAP-21) and the future of tolling, particularly on the Interstates.

Video and other conference-related presentations will be available soon at: www.artbap3.org.