WASHINGTON — There seemed to be little optimism at an afternoon session on public-private partnerships that Congress will pass a $1 trillion infrastructure funding bill by year’s end or that the federal government will receive P3s with open arms anytime soon.
In fact, Norman Anderson, CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure, put it this way: The state of funding for infrastructure is “drastic and getting worse.”
“It’s been five months into the new administration, and nothing’s happening,” Anderson added.
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One by one, executives speaking at an Infrastructure Week event on May 15 echoed Anderson’s comments, complaining that P3s, although not uncommon in Europe and elsewhere around the globe, are looked at with skepticism by the U.S. public, and the federal government puts up significant barriers to private investors looking to financially back infrastructure projects.
Foremost among some of the executives who spoke at a three-hour session, “Reality Check: Can P3s Solve All of Our Infrastructure Issues?” were concerns that the White House Office of Management and Budget’s scoring rules for P3s are unfair and that regulatory hurdles can take anywhere from seven to nine years to clear before startup.
Ed Mortimer, executive director of transportation infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was one of the few speakers, or those in attendance, who felt confident that an infrastructure bill could get passed as soon as September or October.
“But the federal government must provide leadership,” Mortimer said.