Statement by RTA Chairman John S. Gates, Jr. on Public Private Partnership Federal Legislation
June 29, 2011
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is pleased that each of our Illinois Senators – Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk – has introduced legislation to foster public-private partnerships for infrastructure investment. Sen. Durbin’s “Protecting Taxpayers in Transportation Asset Transfers Act” would establish clear national guidelines for the appropriate way to transfer transportation assets funded with federal support to a public-private partnership. Sen. Kirk’s “Lincoln Legacy Infrastructure Development Act” would make improvements to federal credit programs and federal grant programs to expand the ways the federal government can participate in developing infrastructure. Each of these bills is a good starting point for discussion.
Advancing legislation such as that introduced by our Senators is very important to the RTA. With a 10 year capital infrastructure backlog totaling more than $24 billion, the repair and modernization of our region’s transit system remains of utmost importance to us. As the Northeastern Illinois region and nation continues recovering from the largest recession since the Great Depression, federal investment in state of good repair projects remain an ideal vehicle to create good paying jobs. Approximately 36,000 jobs are created for each $1 billion spent on transit capital projects. Transit projects focused on state of good repair – such as those in our capital program – are more shovel ready than most transportation projects. Investing in them will produce the most jobs in the short terms.
Public-private partnerships, such as those envisioned in both pieces of legislation, can be a key tool in our tool belt as we continue to “do more with less” while increasing transparency and public involvement in those types of transactions.
We look forward to working with our Senators to further develop their proposals and make them part of a broader national policy to foster more investment in public transportation.