House Bill 3, a proposal that would give Pennsylvania the ability to lease transportation assets to the private sector and jump start needed infrastructure improvement projects, was unanimously approved Saturday by the Senate, then gained House concurrence.
The commonwealth has a backlog of projects, and funding is a major obstacle. Public-private partnerships, or P3s, are thought to be one piece in the process of tackling unmet transportation needs.
Pennsylvania must have about $3.5 billion annually to fully address infrastructure needs that include more than 5,000 structurally deficient bridges and about 8,000 miles of roadway in very poor condition. The funding estimate comes from a 2010 study by the State Transportation Advisory Committee.
The P3s are designed to attract private investment in large-scale assets and free up limited public dollars for maintenance and safety projects. In return, the private entity would generate a return through user fees or tolling.
The legislation is on its way to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk for consideration. The governor’s office already has said Corbett supports the bill. It is unclear when he will sign it.
Enacting P3 legislation was one of the major recommendations of the governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Committee, which issued its report last August.