South Carolina Commission Studies Transportation PPPs

Yet another state recognizing that PPPs need to be part of the transportation funding solution moving forward:

In South Carolina, revenue from the gas tax is expected to be nearly 5 percent less this year, which amounts to about $50 million less to spend, according to Debra Rountree, the deputy secretary of finance and administration at the state Department of Transportation. But in addition to solving the funding problems, [FHWA Deputy Administrator James] Ray said the partnerships also encourage roadway innovation and have been known to work effectively in Texas, Virginia and communities around the world. Projects get done quicker, too, he said. “Things do not wait in the private sector,” said Mr. Ray. “They know if they wait, it’s money out of their pocket.” The timetable for South Carolina calls for the study committee to release a report on its work in February. State transportation officials have asked members to explain what partnerships would be allowed under the existing state law. “Public-private partnerships are certainly something our state should be doing,” said state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, after the meeting. “Now to what extent? That is what our committee is going to wrestle with. How far should we go? South Carolina is not going to give someone a 99-year lease on I-95.” Ms. Rountree said very few roadways would be eligible for a public-private partnership, but highlighted a 105-mile new construction project proposed on Interstate 73 in Horry, Dillon and Marlboro counties. It is estimated to cost $2.4 billion.

With a sympathetic governor like Mark Sanford, I’d say the time is ripe in South Carolina. And they’ve already taken some first steps towards a potential concession on the Southern Connector, so they’re not starting from scratch on digesting the various related policy issues involved with PPPs. Reason’s Annual Privatization Report 2008–Surface Transportation Reason’s Transportation Research and Commentary