Public Private Transportation Act (PPTA) & Critique
The Public Private Transportation Act of 1995 established a process by which Virginia transportation entities such as the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) or the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit (VDRPT) may enter into contractual agreements for designing and building transportation projects to meet state transportation needs. The idea was that the PPTA would provide a new infusion of private capital to meet growing transportation needs in the face of diminishing public revenue capacity to meet these demands.
Analysis and Critique. The Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville, VA released an analysis and critique of Virginia's PPTA in January, 2005. For the complete report, check the SELC website.
A bulleted summary of the SELC's PPTA report:
* The PPTA has not attracted significant private equity capital to fund projects.
* Costs and risks borne by taxpayers are often understated or unclear.
RAIL Solution's position on the PPTA
Norfolk Southern and other railroads may not have or leverage much private sector cash to contribute to transportation partnerships, but it is very important to recognize what railroads do have — infrastructure, such as track, right of way, signaling and traffic management systems, that no highway contractor or trucking company can offer.
These private resources, enhanced in a public-private partnership (using a multi-state-railroad company compact or working through a rail authority or directly through VDRPT to leverage federal loan money) mobilize private capital resources for a public good.
With Virginia, taking the leadership to meet her people's transportation needs, offering the railroad a proposition which makes use of company's resources, but significantly enhances them for the public good — a true, mutually beneficial public-private transportation partnership would emerge. This partnership could create a new, world class, time-competitive rail service, while keeping I-81 toll-free. This is leadership that meets transportation needs with less cost and consequent damage while enhancing regional economic development.
In contrast to the railroad, STAR Solutions has not demonstrated that it has any private capital or assets to contribute to help lower costs of the STAR plan or of constructing any plan. RAIL Solution supports competitive bidding rather than a no-bid contract with this huge Halliburton-led construction consortium.
A brief timeline history of the PPTA process
for the I-81 Corridor (prepared by the Southern Environmental Law Center)
Jan. 2002 - VDOT received an unsolicited conceptual proposal from STAR Solutions contracting consortium to rebuild I-81 with exclusive truck toll lanes.
Sept. 2002 - VDOT returned the STAR Solutions proposal and solicited conceptual proposals from private entities to design, build, improve, maintain and/or operate all or parts of I-81 through Virginia, requiring a multi-modal component to the plan.
Jan. 2003 - VDOT received two conceptual proposals: Fluor Virginia, Inc. and STAR Solutions.
Feb. 2003 - VDOT moved both proposals to the first stage of review under the PPTA process.
Mar. 2003 - The CTB voted to move both proposals to next stage of review under the PPTA process.
Sept. 2003 - VDOT received detailed proposals from both groups. The proposals were submitted to affected local governments with a 60-day comment period. The I-81 PPTA Advisory Panel was created, and its review meetings were held Oct. 2, Nov. 14 and Dec. 18.
Jan. 2004 - At the request of RAIL Solution a "video conference" public hearing on the proposals was held simultaneously in Harrisonburg, Salem, Bristol, and Richmond before the I-81 PPTA Advisory Panel.
Feb., 2004 - The Advisory Panel completed its evaluation and recommended that the Commissioner enter into negotiations with STAR Solutions, whose proposal is based on the separation of cars and trucks along I-81. There were two votes against and nine votes for this recommendation.
Mar. 5, 2004 - Transportation Commissioner Philip Shucet directed VDOT to enter negotiations with Star Solutions. According to the VDOT website, Shucet stated that, "This approval in no way preempts the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, requiring the evaluation of reasonable alternatives, as well as an analysis of potential social, environmental and economic impacts. NEPA serves as a basis for making informed decisions prior to proceeding with any construction activities."
Responses to VDOT on the PPTA
Rail Solution Response to the scoping hearings, February 24, 2004
Rail Solution Analysis, January 21, 2004
Rail Solution - Public Comment, January 16, 2004
City of Roanoke Response, November 7, 2003
Roanoke County Response and Letter, October 29, 2003
Montgomery County Response
Washington County Response, October 29, 2003