Since the late 1990s, any Maryland transportation agency could consider proposals and engage in the formation of a public-private partnership (P3) to help meet the growing transportation needs of Maryland’s citizens. However, one exception was noted -- no agency could accept unsolicited proposals for a public-private partnership related to highways. Although this exception still holds true, the Maryland Transportation Authority and other State agencies recognize that the use of P3s nationally to provide citizens with needed highway projects is growing. In other states, private entities have partnered with government to finance, design, build and operate new highways. To learn more about how such partnerships might help meet the needs of Maryland’s citizens, the Authority and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) partnered to review how P3s have worked elsewhere and to explore how a P3 process for highway projects may work in Maryland.
The state of Maryland has had a Transportation Public-Private Partnership (TP3) Program established through regulations since 1997. The TP3 Program is intended to focus on non-highway facilities, such as transit-oriented development projects, airport and port facilities, and allows qualified private entities to submit unsolicited proposals to acquire, finance, construct and/or operate new transportation facilities or undertake major rehabilitation of existing transportation facilities. This initiative strives to tap the creative ideas and strengths of the private sector and to provide a vehicle for sound economic investments that supplement traditional transportation resources. In recent years, MDOT has been contacted by entities interested in developing port terminals and transit-oriented development projects.
The main provisions of the TP3 Program are outlined in the TP3 Program Summary. More detailed procedures, as well as guidance to interested private parties for participating in solicited and unsolicited partnership proposals, are provided in the TP3 Guidelines.
The Maryland Transportation Authority is responsible for administering the TP3 provisions on behalf of MDOT. Unlike some states, Maryland has chosen to only accept unsolicited proposals for non-highway projects. As explained below, Maryland is interested now in soliciting P3s for highways and is engaging stakeholders to determine the best process for soliciting private-sector participation in the delivery of new highway projects.
During 2004, representatives from the Authority, the State Highway Administration (SHA) and MDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, studied how other states are using P3s to improve their delivery of highway construction projects.
Two major efforts were incorporated into the study process. First, the group visited transportation-agency counterparts and their private-sector partners in California, Texas and Virginia to learn about their experiences with P3 highway projects and to identify relevant P3 examples from the U.S. and abroad.
Second, the Authority, SHA and MDOT cooperatively developed and issued a Request for Information on Highway Public-Private Partnerships to help secure a broad range of private-sector input on the potential application of the P3 approach to accelerate and expand highway projects in Maryland. Seventeen responses provided an enhanced understanding of P3’s potential for Maryland highways.
The study results are available in the report entitled Current Practices in Public-Private Partnerships for Highways and its associated Executive Summary. The report indicates that other states are using P3 approaches to attract non-traditional funding and to improve project delivery for highway projects. Maryland’s transportation agencies are reviewing this information and considering its relevance to the State’s transportation-capacity needs.
If you have a question regarding TP3s or Maryland’s study on highway P3s, please contact the Maryland Transportation Authority’s Division of Communications at 410-537-1017 (toll-free 1-866-713-1596) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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