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Infrastructure Must-Reads, March 28

Monday, March 28, 2016

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The staff of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Executive Council on Infrastructure share some recent publications, speeches, and testimony relevant to infrastructure policy and finance. The views expressed in these pieces do not necessarily represent the views of the council, its co-chairs, members, advisors or BPC.

Compiled by Nikki Rudnick, Andy Winkler and Jake Varn

A surefire strategy to improve water infrastructure in Flint and beyond
By Joseph Kane and Lynn Broaddus, Brookings Institution

“As Flint’s water crisis continues to reverberate nationally, policymakers have turned their attention to the fundamental infrastructure challenges at hand. From Los Angeles to New York, many regions are not only contending with aging, overburdened water facilities—including areas with lead pipes similar to Flint—but are also confronting an enormous backlog of costs, severe financial constraints, and difficulty in coordinating action across thousands of individual community water systems.

“In the near term, the biggest issue these regions face can often simply come down to identifying where the problems exist. More than a century old in some cases, pipes with the most pressing maintenance needs can be difficult to identify, as the risk for widespread leaks and other public health concerns mount over time. Meanwhile, the lack of timely updated information can extend well beyond lead service lines in places like Flint, making it difficult for utilities and other stakeholders to address wastewater upgrades, groundwater levels, and related water needs simultaneously.” Read the article.

Successful Practices for P3s: A review of what works when delivering transportation via public-private partnerships
U.S. Department of Transportation

“Our target audience is transportation professionals, from the public and private sectors, involved in P3 transactions. Since the report offers practical suggestions for public agencies in the early stages of establishing a P3 program, legislative and oversight staff should also find it of interest. Public agencies pursuing P3s may include State Departments of Transportation, regional authorities (such as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority), bi-state entities (such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey), and special project authorities (such as the International Authority established to oversee a new bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan). Because most public agencies that engage in P3s are at the State government level—and because enabling legislation is passed at the State level—this document will refer mostly to States.

“The successful practices included in this document were developed primarily from interviews and discussions with public entities and industry participants in U.S. P3s, and complemented by publicly available sources and published articles on the topic.” Read the report.

Linking Transit Agencies and Land Use Decision Making: Guidebook for Transit Agencies
Transportation Research Board

“TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 182: Linking Transit Agencies and Land Use Decision Making: Guidebook for Transit Agencies is designed to help transit agencies better address the connections among transit, land use planning, and development decision making.

“The report addresses improved transit and land use decision making by providing transit agencies with the tools that may help them become more effective at the decision-making table. The tools, which build on successful transit and land use decision-making experiences throughout the United States, can help transit agencies self-assess their readiness to participate effectively in the land use decision-making process and help improve their interactions with key stakeholders in the process, including local governments and developers.” Read the report.

New survey reveals Californians’ overwhelming support for recycled water as a long-term drought solution
Xylem Inc.

“The severity and impact of the drought remains top-of-mind among Californians. They are eager for long-term solutions that can help the state to achieve a water-secure future. California residents are overwhelmingly supportive of using treated wastewater, or recycled water, in their everyday lives, according to a statewide survey released today by Xylem Inc. The survey found that 76 percent of respondents believe recycled water should be used as a long-term solution for managing water resources, regardless of whether or not a water shortage continues.

“Nearly half, or 49 percent of respondents, are very supportive of using recycled water as an additional local water supply and another 38 percent are somewhat supportive. The survey defined recycled water as former wastewater that has been treated and purified so that it can be reused for drinking purposes. Of survey respondents, 42 percent are very willing to use recycled water in their everyday lives and an additional 41 percent are somewhat willing. These findings confirm that there is a significant number of Californians who support the use of recycled water.” Read the survey. Read the press release.

2015 Best-Performing Cities: Where America’s jobs are created and sustained
By Ross DeVol, Minoli Ratnatunga, and Armen Bedroussian, Milken Institute

“What drives the economic momentum of the most dynamic metros in the United States? Each year, the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities report identifies the latest trends and most relevant factors powering regional growth. Our index uses a comprehensive, fact-based set of criteria to rank the nation’s metropolitan areas. Among them are job creation, wage gains, and technology trends that shape current and potential patterns of growth. For metros looking to craft cohesive economic strategies, the report provides valuable data and insight.” Read the report.

2016 Economic Report of the President: Chapter 6 – The Economic Benefits of Investing in U.S. Infrastructure
White House Council of Economic Advisers

“Transportation infrastructure has been a key ingredient of economic growth in this country. Ships and ports originally enabled the economic development of the U.S. colonies by fostering the export of natural resources and commodities and the import of manufactured products. Canals and systems of dams and locks on major waterways first opened up the interior of the country to global trade. Railways enabled the rapid expansion to the West, providing an efficient and reliable cross-country option for moving passengers and goods. Combined with the development of automobiles and freight trucks, roads and highways—particularly the Interstate Highway System—became the backbone of inter- and intra-state transportation, offering households and businesses easily accessible and affordable transportation. Airplanes, especially in this modern era of globalization, have fostered the expansion of international trade, the spread of new technology, and the exchange of information, accounting for about a third of the value of U.S. exports (U.S. Department of Transportation 2015a). In each of these cases, investments in infrastructure not only contributed to increases in economic output, but also transformed the country.” Read the report.

Market Update: A Review of Recent Activity in the US Public Private Partnership (P3) Sector and the Outlook for the Year to Come
By Roderick Devlin, Bruce Gabriel, and Carolina Mederos, Squire Patton Boggs

“This Article discusses the state of the US public private partnership (P3) sector in 2015, including market and industry trends and notable federal and local legislative and regulatory developments. This Article also describes P3 projects currently in procurement or in the pipeline and the outlook for the US P3 sector in 2016.

“2015 was a moribund year for the US public private partnership (P3) sector. Although a number of projects reached financial close, they were largely projects of long gestation. Further, a number of high profile cancellations, notably of the Indianapolis Consolidated Justice Facility and the Houston Justice Complex, left market participants feeling bruised after a relatively robust 2014.

“On the positive side:

  • Several innovative non-transportation projects moved forward in 2015, arguably a sign of a maturing market.
  • A few projects with uncertain futures came back in 2015. For example, despite concerns that Maryland’s Purple Line project might be cancelled, the new Governor continued with the project, although in a somewhat modified form.
  • Institutional investors demonstrated increased interest in P3 projects by financing or acquiring P3 assets.
  • P3-friendly legislation was passed (for example, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act) which should facilitate more P3 projects in 2016 and beyond.”

Read the report.

Australian Infrastructure Plan: Priorities and reforms for our nation’s future
Infrastructure Australia

“The need for a national infrastructure plan has never been greater. Australians currently enjoy access to many world-class infrastructure services, which have supported two decades of uninterrupted growth and underpin our world- renowned quality of life. But Australia is undergoing a period of profound change and in 15 years’ time will be a very different country from the one it is today.

“Our population is expected to grow to over 30 million by 2031. A growing population is a source of economic dynamism. Growth provides a larger domestic market for businesses, increases the size of the labour force and facilitates the injection of new ideas. But it also places additional demands on cities and regions – and ultimately government budgets.” Read the report.

Permitting Risk Remains Key Barrier to Infrastructure Investment
By Andy Winkler, Bipartisan Policy Center

“Delays in the environmental review and permitting process—which can increase costs and uncertainty—are a fundamental barrier to private investment in and speedy delivery of needed infrastructure projects. Over the years, various efforts have focused on speeding up project delivery, including the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act passed in December, and have garnered support across the political spectrum. Speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a panel of experts shared their thoughts on these efforts and future opportunities to modernize, streamline, and accelerate environmental review and permitting. From their perspectives, here’s what we can do to facilitate the investments in infrastructure crucial to keeping the American economy competitive and growing:” Read the analysis.