We have talk previously about the benefits and problems of Public Private Partnerships
But, the efficacy of P3 projects’; effects and promotion of project benefits to the people they would serve before such projects are awarded is essential to addressing stakeholders’ concerns and forestalling attempts to delay, change or even cancel the projects. Failure to anticipate negative public reactions has hindered the progress of major infrastructure projects in three states, making them difficult or even impossible to pursue.
In North Carolina, for example, although the House of Representatives failed to cancel the Interstate 77 managed lanes project, protests over the project caused the governor to recommend changes in an attempt to appease opponents.
Meanwhile, progress on the Maryland Purple Line light rail project is hindered by fallout from another area rail line’s poor performance.
A judge decided Aug. 3 to delay the start of construction to update a ridership analysis in light of declining ridership and safety issues plaguing the metropolitan Washington Metrorail system.
The Court noted “serious questions” about the “future viability” of the Purple Line. (See: The Washington Post). More than one-quarter of the new system’s passengers are expected to use both rail systems during their daily commutes, reported radio station WTOP-FM. The delay could complicate the project’s logistics and financing enough to jeopardize the entire project, some experts have warned, according to the Washington Business Journal. The state plans to appeal the judge’s ruling.
Maryland canceled plans to hold an Aug. 8 signing of a $900 million dollar federal funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration because a Court stayed federal funding until the Purple Line ridership issue is settled. This federal contribution would have covered nearly half of the $2 billion dollar project’s construction funding.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo changed the scope of the LaGuardia Airport redevelopment project after bids had been solicited, opting for a more ambitious and far-reaching design for the airport’s main terminal, adding to its expense, reported The Wall Street Journal. The change was motivated, in part, by community complaints about the project’s design.
The terminal’s redesign contributed to a hike in the project’s cost from $3.25 billion to up to $5 billion.
The importance of early, persistent and strong grassroots efforts to educate the public on the efficacy of Public Private Partnership projects therefore cannot be prevaricated.