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Trump's public-private infrastructure proposal works well for revenue-producing projects but return on others unclear, expert says

May 23, 2017

Infrastructure

President Trump’s budget proposal to use federal money as an incentive for private investment in infrastructure will work well for projects that can produce revenue, including toll roads and airports, but that the return on investment for larger scale projects, such as a road through a small town, is unclear, says a Virginia Tech expert.

Kevin Heaslip, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, says the proposed infrastructure plan strives to gain four private dollars for every federal dollar provided. The budget calls for $200 billion over 10 years in infrastructure spending to result in $1 trillion in infrastructure investment.

 Quoting Heaslip

“Much of the infrastructure that the U.S. relies on for economic activity and growth is reaching its useful life expectancy and significant funds are necessary for reconstruction or replacement,” says Kevin Heaslip, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech.

“It’s critical that ongoing operations and maintenance of the infrastructure is regulated or aggressively denoted in the contracts that establish the public private partnership. In successful partnerships, these ongoing costs are addressed vigorously in the contracting process.”

“For example, Virginia has been successful in the development and implementation of public private partnerships where private companies have added capacity and repurposed High Occupancy Vehicle lanes into High Occupancy Toll lanes, which are utilized to increase the time reliability of the trip for drivers and has provided steady streams of revenue for the private companies investing in the infrastructure.”

 About Heaslip

Kevin Heaslip is an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering in The Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His areas of expertise include measurement of system resilience, transportation resilience, transportation engineering, public transportation, and urban transportation planning. View his full bio here.

Interview

To secure an interview with Heaslip, contact Shannon Andrea at sandrea@vt.edu or 571-858-3262.

 

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