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VA Transportation Board Revises Public-Private Guidelines

Wed November 09, 2005 - Southeast Edition
CEG



Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) has approved a resolution to revise the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA) guidelines of 1995 based on amendments enacted by the 2005 General Assembly.

“These changes provide a stable investment climate for the private sector and in return, require the private sector to assume a greater share of project costs and risks,” said Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer.

The PPTA is state law that allows the Virginia transportation agencies to partner with the private sector to build and operate transportation projects. The guidelines are revised to include a mandatory requirement that the private sector share in the risk and cost of building and designing projects.

The revised PPTA guidelines are another critical step the CTB is taking to maintain sound transportation business practices, officials said, including recognizing fiscal constraints and encouraging private sector competition.

The revised guidelines include:

• allowing Virginia transportation agencies to enter into interim agreements to determine project feasibility and financing before negotiating a comprehensive agreement;

• promoting competition to create multimodal and intermodal transportation solutions;

• requiring increased commitment from the private sector in taking risks and sharing costs;

• requiring greater public participation; and

• requiring public review of any partnership agreement prior to its final execution.

Review Process Outlined

Private-sector proposals will be reviewed under the following process:

• Quality Control With Fixed Timeline: Agency staff determines if proposals address needs identified in transportation plans and allow the private sector to share in the risks, with the goal of building projects quicker and more efficiently. If the proposals meet the quality control review, they are forwarded to the Secretary of Transportation.

• Independent Review Panel With Public Participation: A panel of local, regional and state transportation professionals, CTB members and a representative from the academic community or other appropriate individuals review the proposals in more depth. Public participation, including a comment session is held during this stage. The review panel makes a recommendation to the CTB.

• Commonwealth Transportation Board Review: The CTB recommends the proposals’ advancement or rejection.

• Detailed Proposals: Should the process advance, the agency conducts further review of detailed proposals.

• Negotiations: The state agency head may enter into negotiations for an interim agreement or comprehensive agreement. The transportation secretary’s approval of the PPTA process is required before the commissioner can sign an agreement.

Whether a project is procured through the PPTA process or through conventional means, it must comply with all the state and federal laws and regulations, including environmental review.

The 2005 General Assembly amendments to the PPTA, with the corresponding revised PPTA Implementation Guidelines, allow transportation agencies to make business decisions based on the needs identified in the appropriate state, regional and local transportation plan with an emphasis in private investment, risk sharing and an increase in funding, CTB officials said.