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Bush to call for public-private transportation partnerships


From CongressDaily


The Bush administration will ask Congress to help give the private sector a bigger role in federal highway projects, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said in a speech Wednesday to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.


Mineta said the department has finished "one of the most comprehensive studies of public-private partnerships ever written" and will deliver it to Congress by next week.


"The Bush administration is looking to tap into the entrepreneurial energy of the free market by making public-private partnerships a much bigger part of U.S. transportation," said Mineta, the only Democrat in Bush's Cabinet.


Mineta said such partnerships can save time and can cut construction costs by 6 percent to 40 percent. They also provide for "fresh and innovative approaches into the way that we build and maintain transportation projects in the United States," he said.


Emphasizing partnerships will require a revamping of existing policies, Mineta said.


"We are finding that traditional federal highway and transit programs throw unintended roadblocks into the paths of potential private-sector partners, often simply because the rules and regulations under which they operate were written for the public sector," he said.


These partnerships may take a more central role when Congress renews efforts to complete a surface transportation reauthorization bill next year because of the heightened attention expected next year on reducing the deficit by clamping down on domestic spending.

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