Vol. 18, No. 4; July/Aug 2007
In the last issue we sketched an outline of our vision of what a future highway and transit program might look like. We did so in response to the National Transportation Policy Commission's open invitation for "bold new ideas." But big ideas only define where we want to go. A detailed strategy is needed to show how to get there. With this in mind, we present below a concrete plan of action to implement this vision.
The latest chapter in the continuing debate about the role of public-private partnerships (PPPs) featured some uncharacteristically blunt congressional criticism and some equally pointed rejoinders. In a May 10 letter sent to governors, state legislators and state transportation officials, House T&I Committee Chairmen James Oberstar (D-MN) and Highway and Transit Subcommittee chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) warned the recipients against "rushing" into public-private partnerships that do not fully protect the public interest. "The Committee will work to undo any state PPP agreements that do not fully protect the public interest and the integrity of the national system." The bluntly phrased warning stunned people and caused an uproar among state officials and within the transportation community.
Nine cities have been selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation as semi-finalists in the "Urban Partnerships" program. Of all the proposed urban partnership projects, New York City's proposal to implement congestion pricing in mid- and lower Manhattan has attracted the most attention as the boldest and most challenging of the initiatives.
Our vision scenario, "A National Surface Transportation Program for the 21st Century," (Innovation Briefs, May/June 2007, continued in this issue) provoked reactions from many of our readers. One response struck us as particularly thought- provoking. Its author, Hal Kasoff, is a senior Vice President of Parsons Brinckerhoff, responsible for overseeing the firm's highway projects nationwide. Before joining PB, Mr. Kasoff served as Maryland's State Highway Administrator from 1984 to 1996.
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