The United States has the largest emerging public-private partnership (P3) market in the world for infrastructure projects. Due to decreased tax revenue and shrinking budgets, many state and local governments in the southern United States have embraced alternative methods of project delivery. Public entities in the southern United States boast some of the most extensive P3 experience in the U.S. and it dates back to before the turn of the century with the Pocahontas Parkway in Virginia, Texas, and Florida pioneering several complex P3s.

Public officials and industry partners convened for the third annual P3 Bulletin Hub South Conference at the Conrad Miami last month to celebrate the past, learn about present deal flow, and think about future developments.

Celebrating the Past

Florida is home to the nation’s first, second, and largest availability payment transactions in the U.S. transportation sector. The Florida Department of Transportation reported that the P3 model used in the I-595 Corridor Improvement Project enabled construction to finish on time and on budget. City of Miami commissioner and mayoral candidate Francis Suarez highlighted how the Port of Miami Tunnel has removed 80% of the truck traffic in downtown Miami, alleviating some of the 125 hours a year that Miami citizens spend in their cars. In a similar manner, the I-4 Ultimate Project is expected to relieve traffic congestion by increasing highway occupancy rates across the Orange and Seminole Counties.

Present Deal Flow

The Georgia Department of Transportation is advancing its Major Mobility Investment Program of 11 major projects that will ease congestion along key passenger and freight corridors. More than half of these will be procured as P3s, following the success of the public agency’s first P3 procurement, the Northwest Corridor Project.
The outlook for P3 deal flow in other regions ravaged by recent hurricanes is not as optimistic, but crises precede opportunities for growth and innovation. Puerto Rico plans to utilize P3s and unsolicited proposals to harness renewable energy, fiber optic cable, and undergrounding technologies to get its island back onto a sustainable grid. Affordable housing in Houston and Miami remain a top priority.

Future Developments

Multiple public officials emphasized the significant role that unsolicited proposals will play in the future. When private companies are not viewed as adversaries, new technologies such as autonomous vehicles and urban gondolas can bring innovation to public infrastructure. Decreased headways and the jaw-dropping views will be just a bonus.

Although plenty of atmospheric conditions have negatively impacted the southern United States in recent months, P3s will increasingly play an important role again as the region recovers. The P3 history in this region demonstrates that its governmental agencies have a good understanding of the value of private investment in public infrastructure.