Management & Operations

2014 Women In Transportation: Sallye Perrin

Posted on October 16, 2014 by Brittni Rubin

Perrin works with industry groups, speaks at conferences and develops materials to help in the advocacy for P3s through Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Perrin works with industry groups, speaks at conferences and develops materials to help in the advocacy for P3s through Parsons Brinckerhoff.
In her over 30-year career working on major transportation projects, Sallye Perrin developed a specialty in public-private partnerships, commonly referred to as P3s. A senior vice president of Parsons Brinckerhof (PB), Perrin also serves as the company’s P3 strategic director.

The market for P3s is expanding in the U.S. as President Barack Obama recently announced a new federal effort called the “Build American Investment Initiative.” The order is designed to bring more private-sector dollars into public transportation.

“Everybody wants to do things faster,” Perrin says of P3s. “The days of spending 20 years to develop and deliver a project are over — clients want to complete major projects in five or six years, and they’re interested in finding different ways of financing them so they don’t have to wait for funding to trickle in.”

Perrin helps coordinate PB’s approach to P3s. When she identifies an opportunity that might work for a municipality or state, she organizes a team to work on a proposal strategy — which can take up to a year to develop — and its delivery.

“I help motivate teams to break away from what they normally do to come up with innovative solutions,” Perrin says. “It’s challenging but also one of the most exciting aspects of a P3 development.”

She also works with industry groups, speaks at conferences and develops materials to help in the advocacy for P3s through PB.

“P3s are becoming a norm, and that’s an exciting time,” Perrin says. “I find it really thrilling to work on true integrated delivery where you’re looking at projects holistically.”

Perrin is currently working with a team of PB designers on a significant P3 project in Boston. It includes a major underground structure and related highway and transportation improvements. According to Perrin, the project is aiming for financial close this fall.

Previously, Perrin worked in Istanbul with the Turkish Ministry of Transportation on its light rail program. She served as environmental manager responsible for the assessment of transit alternatives for the existing system. Over the course of the project, she managed a group of 10 Turkish sub-consultants on the first environmental assessment of its kind in Turkey.  

“All aspects of the project had impacts, and we evaluated the big picture,” Perrin says. “We were working together to come up with a solution that optimized the spirit of the project in conjunction with construction, design and maintenance.”

During a decade-long hiatus from PB from 1994 to 2004, Perrin helped implement P3s for the development of four new transit lines in Houston. And prior to that, she led the development team for Viva, a bus rapid transit service operating in York Region, Ontario, Canada. The line now connects York Region to northern Toronto, and the project was designed and built using a P3 model, with the province of Ontario as well as the federal government providing funding.

She aided in the planning, design, construction and bus integration of the Viva, which is notably successful.

“We ended up rebranding the service to be attractive and something different than the regular bus service,” she says.
Perrin graduated from the University of Virginia and was one of the first women to do so. She then went on to receive a master’s degree in civil engineering, joining PB in 1986. She was among the first to be hired for the company’s Baltimore office.

“I fell in love with transportation work and the planning that went into it,” says Perrin, who went on to work on the implementation of the Baltimore Metro extension to Johns Hopkins Hospital as well as the city’s new 22-mile light rail transit system.

“I value transit because it provides opportunities for mobility, shapes cities and makes important impacts on how these cities grow,” she says. “How do we create synergies and put together teams to build on our capabilities in pursuing public-private partnerships? That’s what I’m interested in answering.”  

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