On November 10th, the Michigan Transportation Funding Task Force released a report on Michigan’s transportation needs and funding alternatives. While the Task Force included recommendations for increasing some fees and taxes, we should commend the Task Force for also including the recommendation to enable Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) for toll-financed reconstruction, expansion or new construction of freeways or other transportation systems A key finding in about the aging infrastructure was:
“Michigan needs to reconstruct aging urban freeways and add lanes to commuter and intercity routes. This will require multi projects costing over $1 billion each. Conversion of some freeway segments to toll roads can make these projects affordable by dedicating a stream of user fees to the roads on which the fees are collected.
The task force recommended that, “A new act would be needed to establish clear authority for procurement through agreement with public-private partners. This would be in addition to the amendment needed for tolls.” The state should “enable toll-financed reconstruction, expansion, or new construction of freeways.” My colleague Len Gliroy has recently cited two other states looking also including Public Private Partnerships. South Carolina and New York State. While the private sector cannot solve all problems for a state’s infrastructure needs, it is time to add the tool of public-private partnerships and tolling to the Michigan tool box.