(NASHVILLE) – Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), Senate Democrat Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro, House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent (R-Franklin) and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) held a press conference today with other key legislative leaders, mayors, transportation officials and the Chamber of Commerce in support of an innovative bill that would provide a framework to allow Private Public Partnership (P3) agreements for transportation projects. Senate Bill 2093 / House Bill 2407 aims to improve safety, reduce congestion and increase capacity on Tennessee’s roads, as well as encourage economic growth.
“With long-term funding sources for transportation being uncertain, the ability to enter into private-public partnerships will allow us to finance projects that we might not otherwise be able to even consider,” said Sen. Ketron. “This legislation is the result of months of collaboration by many groups that understand the necessity for forging ahead to find solutions to the challenges we face to meet growing transportation demands in Tennessee. It would give us another tool in the toolbox to address those needs.”
Rep. Sargent added, “Tennessee has reached the point that we must deal with our transit needs, whether that means having a system for people who live in the Nashville area or one that allows people who reside in the surrounding counties to commute to work. As the city and region grow, the need for a system that allows us to travel more efficiently and seamlessly throughout the region is vital.”
“Anyone who’s driven in Middle Tennessee in the last six months knows we have to take action, and we have to take it now,” Sen. Yarbro said. “Transit is an essential piece of the puzzle, and our legislation sets a framework for the investment in transportation we badly need.”
Typically with a P3 agreement, the public sector maintains ownership of the asset but the private partner manages construction, operation, and maintenance through the life of the contract.
Key provisions in the bill include:
• authorizes partnerships between city, county or state governments to receive, consider, evaluate and accept solicited and unsolicited proposals for a qualifying transportation facility and details the process for private development, redevelopment and operation of transportation facilities;
• allows government entities to receive, consider, evaluate and accept proposals for a qualifying transportation facility and details the procedures for doing so;
• sets forth guidelines for obtaining or issuing a certificate and for terms of these P3 agreements;
• places accountability into the process by requiring the legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee to review any proposals accepted by the Department of Transportation within 20 days of receipt;
• grants private entities broad authority in structuring terms and conditions for the financing of their transportation facilities; and
• establishes responsibilities for the public and private entity, as well as a procedure for revocation of a certificate of a transportation facility.
“This proposal has the potential to accelerate projects, encourage innovation, and maximize financial resources,” added Sen. Tracy. “We believe it will continue to gain widespread support as it moves through the legislative process.”