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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation
September/October 2005
Issue No:
Vol. 69 No. 2
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Guest Editorial

Financing Tomorrow's Roads

capkaTwo events-one recent and one upcoming-draw attention to America's continuing need for a strong transportation system that fosters economic growth. The recent signing of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) by President George W. Bush recognizes the need for a multiyear, comprehensive plan to fund and implement improvements for the Nation's highway system. And the upcoming milestone of the 50th anniversary of the interstate system serves as a reminder of how far the Nation has come since 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill creating the new transportation network.

But it's time to move on from the system that was designed to fund interstate construction. Traditional ways of financing transportation improvements have certainly served the country well, but is that funding architecture correct or calibrated properly for funding surface transportation requirements in the future? The Highway Trust Fund that was set up to finance the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways is inadequate to support all of the Nation's transportation needs in a robust economy. The next reauthorizing legislation is only 4 years away, and the urgency to address this issue is rapidly emerging. The transportation community needs to earnestly explore additional, more efficient ways of paying for highway transportation.

And the community is doing just that. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and State departments of transportation are conducting studies of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and reviewing methods to embrace them and a host of new innovative financing tools. FHWA is helping several States implement innovative PPPs that enable projects to be completed faster-and in one case retire debt in record time-and is encouraging the public sector to create an environment that will attract, not discourage, private-sector investment. Enthusiasm is growing for PPPs as innovative ways to finance projects and as avenues to get roads and bridges built quicker and at less cost to taxpayers.

FHWA recently created a PPP program and management position to strengthen the agency's promotion and oversight of these partnerships. The PPP program will provide a central point of contact for State and local transportation officials and private-sector representatives who want to explore new and creative ways to design, develop, and deliver highways and bridges. This issue of PUBLIC ROADS examines some of the issues involved in tolling and innovative financing, and touches on the importance of PPPs in the article "Issues in the Financing of Truck-Only Lanes."

Upcoming issues of PUBLIC ROADS will cover PPPs in depth and will continue to highlight innovative financing methods and initiatives. In the future, not only will Federal and State agencies work together; private industry will join the partnership and be able to offer its efficiency, creativity, economies of scale, and innovations. Together, we will help the Nation's transportation system keep the economy moving.

J. Richard Capka

Acting Administrator

Federal Highway Administration