With more than 4,000 structurally deficient bridges, Pennsylvania leads the nation in the ignominious metric of most structurally deficient bridges (18 percent of its bridges are structurally deficient, compared to the national average of 8 percent). But in the coming year, the state will launch a public-private partnership program to repair 500 of those bridges, reports Charles Chieppo.
The Pennsylvania P3 Act allows the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to bundle similar projects rather than designing and building each one at a time. Also, “Recognizing that operations and maintenance account for 80 to 90 percent of costs over the lifetime of a transportation asset, the private partners will also operate and maintain the bridges for as long as 40 years.” Because “Payment will be based on the contractor's performance at limiting lifecycle costs,” the private partners will have plenty of incentive to deliver durable products.
The PennDOT is expecting big returns from the program: “The Pennsylvania P3 Act…is expected to spark about $3.5 billion annually in additional transportation infrastructure investment without relying exclusively on tax revenue…” Not only that, but the PennDOT claims that “absent the [Pennsylvania P3 Act], the bridge replacements would take 15 to 20 years…”