Public-Private Partnerships: Can the United States Learn from the French Experience to Address its Highway Funding Needs?
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Abstract: All countries need an extensive and reliable road infrastructure network in order to promote economic growth and enhance their security. Like in most countries, US transportation budgets are constrained while traffic bottlenecks are increasing and roads quality ... read moreis on the decline. This results in growing infrastructure funding gaps and a pressing need to find alternative funding mechanisms to taxes and traditional bond financing. The century-old model of Public-Private Partnership has recently reemerged in the context of rising involvement of the private sector in the provision of public services. PPPs are contractual agreements between a public and a private entity and typically provide significant and flexible financing. In addition, the expertise of the private sector will lead infrastructure assets to be more efficiently operated and bring in more revenues than under public provision. In comparison to France, the United States offers a more favorable ground to the implementation of PPPs. Indeed the private sector has traditionally been involved in the US economy and a federal system presents certain advantages in the implementation of Partnerships. France has yet made greater use of the model, in particular in the operation of existing toll roads. In fact PPPs are not adapted to greenfield investments and are typically formed to explore the operational and management expertise of the private sector. As such, Partnerships would be a perfect tool in the US which is in need of pressing road maintenance investments. Provided the United States addresses the misconceptions that exist on PPPs among the American public and continues to promote a favorable regulatory environment, only political will would remain in the way of making Public-Private Partnerships the preferred American way of providing for highway infrastructure.read less