As industry leaders gather during U.S. Infrastructure Week to discuss ways to rebuild America’s decaying infrastructure – and government decision makers work towards a shared vision for funding the next generation of roads, bridges and tunnels – I reflected on how Transurban’s approach to partnerships should be a model for governments looking to deliver transformational infrastructure.
As part of an interview with Transportation Builder, I discussed the power of P3’s – specifically the untapped opportunities within the toll road market – and my thoughts on the greatest challenge facing America’s infrastructure. Here’s what I told them:
- The most exciting, long-term opportunity in the U.S. lies within the existing public toll road market. There are opportunities across the country where governments could put new P3s in place on existing toll roads that would result in substantially lower tolls, reduced congestion, and improved travel for customers. These partnerships could also accelerate and guarantee future revenue to deliver billions of dollars for the construction of new infrastructure.
- As we try to tackle the funding question for America’s infrastructure, we can’t look past the workforce challenge. It is a crisis. Modern transportation projects require greater technology, commercial and financial skills than bridges and highways of the past. We don’t have the available talent. It’s on us to educate young people on the exciting opportunities awaiting them in transportation and help break down barriers to entry for minority and female professionals.
- Further, embracing local talent and expertise are among the most critical elements of any successful transportation project, especially large and complex P3 projects. With decades of experience in the market, local partners are often best positioned to understand and deliver on the needs of our client, customers and communities. In Virginia, for example, Transurban has generated more than $850 million in contract opportunities for small, women and minority-owned businesses – the majority of which are local.
- P3s don’t work without courageous, innovative public partners. Projects like Transurban’s 495 and 95 Express Lanes have been successful because of the leaders at the Virginia Department of Transportation who have embraced a smart and modern mix of traditional revenue sources and delivery models, tolling and public-private partnerships to meet the evolving transportation needs of their communities.
Transurban is leading the way in successful partnerships, investing in a new, diverse workforce and embracing local expertise. Still, as an industry, we need to do better as the U.S. market is falling behind. To ensure we can #BuildForTomorrow, we must use Infrastructure Week and every opportunity to educated Washington decision makers that P3s are working for governments, taxpayers and businesses.