Arizona Senate committee reins in public-private partnerships

| 2/20/2008

The Arizona Senate Transportation Committee voted down an attempt to grant broad authority to the state DOT to pursue public-private partnerships.

Although the committee voted to allow some privatization of transportation functions, votes to kill two bills related to PPPs is welcome news for truckers and taxpayers, say officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The Senate committee addressed seven bills related to transportation and public-private partnerships during a meeting Tuesday, Feb. 19.

SB1465, killed by a 2-2 committee vote, would have required the Arizona Department of Transportation to develop a system for public-private partnerships related to transportation.

A similar 2-2 vote killed SB1498, which would have allowed ADOT to enter into PPPs specifically for toll projects.

Senators put off voting for SB1420, which would allow cities, counties and the state to form special authorities to partner with private companies for the construction and operation of public highways and toll roads.

Rod Nofziger, director of government affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, says the Senate committee vote sends a message to some influential people.

“Being that Arizona is the home state of Sen. John McCain and Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, these moves to limit PPPs are very encouraging,” Nofziger told Land Line.

Peters has been pushing an agenda for increased tolling, public-private partnerships and congestion pricing in her role with the U.S. DOT. She is a former secretary of the Arizona DOT.

The state Senate Transportation Committee approved three bills relating to privatization:

SB1466, which allows the state DOT to privatize rest areas;
SB1503, which allows private construction of new lanes on existing freeways; and,
SB1471, which allows ADOT to partner with private businesses to convert carpool lanes on Arizona 51 into toll lanes by November 2013.

– By David Tanner, staff writer