Public-private partnerships hold great promise for Pennsylvania and America

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As our nation continues to work toward economic recovery, governments at all levels face immense pressure to improve public services and infrastructure while saving public taxpayer money.

Absent from the Post-Gazette’s recent multipart series “The ‘P3’ Dilemma” (Aug. 10-13) and subsequent editorial (“A Caution on P3s,” Aug. 17) was a discussion of the greater scrutiny local and state budgets have faced in the wake of the Great Recession. As budgets tightened, new infrastructure construction and necessary infrastructure upgrades fell to the backburner.

Quality public-private partnerships can save taxpayer money, speed project timelines, create local jobs and leverage the advantages of the private sector to improve infrastructure. The private sector brings the expertise and efficiency that government often cannot muster. These partnerships are most successful when the process is transparent, open and well-coordinated to allow for public outreach and feedback.

Because of its geographic location, Pennsylvania’s infrastructure is vital not only to its own economy but also to our country’s. Its roads, ports and water systems drive commerce in the northeastern United States, carrying 34 percent more goods than the average state.

By 2015, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation estimates that half of the commonwealth’s roads will be in fair to poor condition. Each year, Pennsylvania drivers waste 182 hours and 86 gallons of gas on congested, poorly maintained roads. The estimated cost of updating the commonwealth’s wastewater systems could reach $5,600 per household over the next 20 years, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

To pay for the roads and infrastructure our country needs and support private sector investment in our communities, P3s must continue to be part of the dialogue on creating jobs and rebuilding America in Pennsylvania and across the country.

Executive Director
National Council for Public-Private Partnerships
Washington, D.C.

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