TZ BRIDGE TRANSIT: A BILLION $ SOLUTION?
Panel Focuses On Long Term Infrastructure and Job Creation
Mt. Kisco, N.Y. – 8/23/2012 – Senator Greg Ball (Patterson – R, C), along with the Business Council of Westchester, held a Public-Private Partnership Roundtable on August 23rd at the Mount Kisco Public Library.
Hundreds gathered to brainstorm the best way to legislatively enable Public-Private Partnerships in New York State. According to the four experts that testified, these types of partnerships in New York will spur economic development and allow funding for government facilities and infrastructure projects while lowering the tax burden on residents. The assembled experts suggested that P3 legislation could even help to solve the Tappan Zee Bridge’s current ‘transit problem’.
Mr. John Ravitz, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Business Council of Westchester, said, “We support the concept of private public partnerships as another tool to help us create economic development in Westchester County and we look forward to continuing to have a strong line of communication with Senator Ball in this area.”
“New York is the capitol of capital and our current inability to proactively fund vital infrastructure projects, small and large, is simply inexcusable. Public-private partnerships (P3’s) would better enable New York to finance public work projects, such as the transit portion of the Tappan Zee Bridge, while reducing the burden on federal, state and local taxpayers as well as commuters and ratepayers,” said Senator Greg Ball. “We live in a powerful state that is home to the greatest financial market in the world. The search for federal debt based funds and our clamoring to finance the transit option on the Tappan Zee Bridge is symptomatic of a previous lack of both creative thinking and innovative finance models. It’s time to change all of that by supplying the Governor with these new helpful tools.”
“Since before my election, I have advocated for public-private partnerships, as a means of reducing government costs, and increasing government efficiency,” Assemblyman Robert Castelli said. “I complement Senator Ball on taking this initiative and I join with him in pursuing it further to help keep New York open for business.”
Joseph Bracchitta of the Yonkers Public Schools Board of Education joined the roundtable with a project that he considers perfect for P3 legislation. Bracchitta spoke of a $1.7 billion educational facilities plan that he believes could be completed in a more efficient way through the use of a public-private partnership.
Bracchitta also went on to say, “I think it is timely and very important. I am very impressed at the variety of opinion and sectors that are represented here today. I look forward to future meetings.”
Senator Greg Ball said, “Billions of dollars wait on the sidelines as New York refuses to move forward with P3 legislation. I applaud the Governor for his continued leadership in fast-forwarding the stages of development for the TZ Bridge and other critical infrastructure initiatives, but we must give the Governor all of the tools he needs and deserves. With the Tappan Zee Bridge, we have a local example where a public-private partnership arrangement, had it been made available by legislation, may have been enormously helpful in securing the dollars necessary in an appropriate timeframe. There are over 30 other states already using P3 legislation (Public-Private Partnerships) and it is well beyond the time for New York to take the lead in this important arena. Concerning the transit portion of the TZ, I believe we still have the opportunity and time to unlock billions of dollars for this critical project.”
Senator Ball called on four subject matter experts in the field of public-private partnerships and transportation to share their experience in applying PPP in different locations around the world.
Richard Norment, Executive Director of the National Council for Public-Private Partnership, gave a presentation to the group in order to demonstrate how PPP could benefit projects, such as the Tappan Zee Bridge.
“At this moment New York State does not have adequate legislation for public-private partnerships, but hopefully we will see some change in legislation this year,” said Richard Norment. “The Tappan Zee Bridge is a perfect example of what I have been talking about. If the state used the private sector to fund this project it would lessen the load and not put a drain on the taxpayers.”
Joung Lee, Senior Analyst for Transportation Finance and Business Development American Association State Highway Transportation said, “A lot of the states around the country are facing problems with trying to solve their infrastructure investment challenges because traditional funding sources have been constrained. The potential to really overcome that challenge is the application of public-private partnerships. I think it only helps to consider P3’s as an opportunity to deliver infrastructure solutions. Having this conversation and getting all the industry stakeholders in one room is absolutely the perfect way to start the debate.”
“I really appreciate Senator Ball inviting me and the other panelists to the forum today. I think that this P3 legislation, as it is shown in other states and around the world, is really working. It can provide the means for infrastructure that otherwise, can’t be built,” said Peter Swiecicki of Squire Sanders. “This can be something as big as the mass transit corridor across the Tappan Zee Bridge, or something as small as rehabilitating local schools. I look forward to working more in the future with Senator Ball on this legislation.”
Jaime Rall from the National Conference of State Legislatures said, “This meeting was a wonderful first opportunity in line with one of the recommendations that NCSL has had, to engage the public in the discussion as states are looking at PPP’s. The meeting represented an impressive range of stakeholders and I look forward to seeing it broadened even further to have the conversation be rich and transparent upfront.”
“I think this is something that is needed and long overdue,” said Peter Cris of the Pawling Chamber of Commerce. “The Senator should be applauded for taking the initiative on this. I think that if this group works together, we have a great starting point here today and many ideas will flow from this meeting.”
For more information or to speak with Senator Ball, please contact Joe Bachmeier at (845) 200-9716.