Pennsylvania is hoping to erase its dubious distinction of having more structurally deficient bridges than any other state in the nation by using a public-private partnership to fund bridge projects.

By the end of the year, the state Department of Transportation is expected to select from one of four interested consortiums to design, build, and finance about 600 of the nearly 4,200 state-owned bridges in dire need of replacement.

The effort is being made possible under a 2012 law authorizing PennDOT, other state agencies, and municipal authorities to use public-private partnerships, or P3s, for transportation projects.

Steve T. Park, an attorney with Ballard Spahr, said Pennsylvania’s law is very well thought out. The law firm advised Philadelphia on the sale of its gas utility.

“It allows for flexibility for PennDOT, but there’s also a good measure of safeguarding to protect the public interest,” Mr. Park said.

The law established a Public Private Transportation Partnership Board to oversee the projects. The panel includes the secretaries of transportation and the budget, someone appointed by the governor, and four members selected by the state Legislature.

The law gives the board the authority to review and approve P3 proposals before they are put out to bid. For projects involving state-owned transportation facilities, the Legislature has either nine working days or 20 calendar days to veto the proposal. 

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P3/Infrastructure
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