Ports and the Public-Private Partnership

Without their own dedicated federal funding, U.S. ports are often left to provide for themselves. More and more of them are turning to public-private partnerships.
April 27, 2009, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Unlike highways and the highway trust fund, ports do not have a dedicated source of federal funds. Historically, ports have relied on the revenues generated from operations, bonds supported by those revenues and a few government grants to keep their facilities up to date. Some state and local governments appropriate money from their budgets to support port improvements. Generally, however, ports are left to fund themselves."

"Recently, more and more ports have been turning to third-party investors to finance infrastructure modernization projects through public-private partnerships (PPPs). This change is due to both a lack of overall funding available given the demand for facility improvements and a growing number of private investors who see great potential for future returns on their investments in the nation's ports. As managing partner of the private infrastructure investment firm Highstar Capital, Christopher Lee puts it: 'Ports are going to be one of the first lines of the economy to turn when the environment improves. We want to be ahead of the competition.'"

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Published on Friday, April 24, 2009 in Reason
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