A new Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) perspective proposes a federal grant program to match private infrastructure investment in major projects, including passenger rail, highways, bridges, and ports.
The report, “Public Equity to Match Private Investment in Infrastructure,” explores the details of whether private-sector funding could bridge the financial gap to these projects and how to potentially balance public-private partnerships.
The perspective states that the ongoing debate over American infrastructure frequently passes the responsibility between the public and private sectors. Private sector advocates point to the vast economic resources available and to successful projects such as the Brightline high-speed rail in Florida. Others, however, argue that private control of public infrastructure could lead to high user costs and possibly even poor construction for the sake of maximizing profits.
According to Karen Hedlund, the perspective’s author, a balance between public and private partners could be achieved with public sponsors setting minimum construction and operating standards and developers evaluating proposals based on costs from private investment. Hedlund believes this proposed method could enable the funding of critical projects such as:
- The new Gateway rail tunnels under the Hudson River to replace the 100-year old North River Tunnels.
- California High-Speed Rail Project from the Central Valley to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
- High speed train from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland.
- Extending XpressWest’s proposed line from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
- Advancing express rail connectors from city centers to international airports.
“Neither the public nor the private sector can do it alone,” Hedlund explains in the report. “Instead, together they can build new and modern infrastructure and revive America’s old highways, ports, rail, and transit to bring the nation’s transportation systems into the 21st century."