John P. Smolen

Of Counsel
Tel 410.528.5582
Fax 410.528.5650

John P. Smolen counsels public entities, private concessionaires/contractors, and financing parties in large, complex design-build and public-private partnership (P3/PPP) civil and social infrastructure projects across the country.

John has played a leading role in the procurement, negotiation, financing, and administration of several P3 and design-build projects in the transportation, transit, social infrastructure, and maritime/riverine port spaces. John has represented public clients in Maryland, Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Nebraska, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Alaska, among others. John has represented lenders, as well as developer consortia, in several horizontal and vertical infrastructure projects from statutory drafting, through pre-procurement, deal structuring, procurement, and negotiation, to post-selection commercial and financial close, with additional experience in implementation and administration

John also has considerable experience in general construction and EPC contracting in the energy, renewable energy, and emerging technology spaces. He has led project developments involving wind, solar, geothermal, and waste-to-energy resources, and he has helped private clients commercialize energy-related technology.

Before becoming a lawyer, John served for more than a decade in the U.S. Navy as an officer, aviator, flight instructor, and Naval ROTC instructor at Virginia Tech.

Representative Matters

  • PortKC (Port Authority of Kansas City, Missouri) – lead P3 project counsel for the Missouri River Terminal (MRT) riverine port P3 project
  • City of Nome, Alaska (Port of Nome) – lead P3 project counsel of landside and seaside development of Arctic Deep Draft Port
  • Georgia Department of Transportation – co-P3 counsel on the East Interchange design-build-finance project and design-build program
  • South Carolina Department of Transportation – design-build counsel on the Carolina Crossroads re-procurement
  • Virginia Department of Transportation – design-build and P3 counsel/co-counsel on transactions, including the Capital Beltway NEXT Project and the U.S. Route 121 (f/k/a Coalfields Expressway), Poplar Creek Phase A, U.S. 460 Connector Phase II comprehensive agreement, design-build contract program
  • Pennsylvania Department of Transportation – co-P3 counsel on the I-81 Partnership design-build-finance project and Pathways program
  • Maryland Transit Administration and Maryland Department of Transportation –primary legal team, advising on procurement, contract, financing, and contract administration matters to Maryland's first transit P3 project, the Purple Line Light Rail availability payment P3 transit project, at financing the largest P3 transit availability payment project in the U.S..
  • Indiana Department of Transportation/Indiana Finance Authority – Design-Build Best Value and P3 co-counsel on transactions, including the East End Crossing (Lewis and Clark Bridge), the first bridge procured via an availability payment P3 transaction in the United States
  • P3 counsel to several universities in energy monetization, student housing, and mixed-use developments
  • Private Sector Infrastructure Developer – Sponsor’s counsel to bidder consortium on a jurisdiction’s first large-scale civil infrastructure P3
  • Private Sector Social Infrastructure Client – Developer’s counsel and P3 counsel to social infrastructure projects on both coasts
  • Private Sector Lenders’ Counsel – Lenders’ counsel in P3 procurements in the social infrastructure, horizontal infrastructure, and university energy spaces spanning the country.
  • Private Sector Heavy Industry Client – Coal Processing Facility – Lead counsel to a private sector client in development of an EPC project to design and build a commercial scale coal processing facility
  • Private Sector Renewable Energy Project Developer – Renewable Energy Projects. Counsel to an early-stage development client in renewable energy power producing facilities in the mountain states and Hawaii
  • Private Sector Wind Energy Project Owner – Renewable Energy Projects. Counsel on a portfolio of joint project development efforts for renewable energy projects throughout the Midwest, representing the owner in project development and construction matters

Pro Bono Experience

As part of his pro bono practice, John has represented a non-profit transitional program on real estate and corporate matters, military veterans before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on issues relating to benefits, persons in asylum proceedings, and homeless/at-risk clients in criminal record expungement proceedings.

Professional Activities

Maryland State Bar Association

Kansas Bar Association 

D.C. Bar Association


Co-author, "East End Crossing Project – Availability Payment P3 in Action," World Highways, June 2017

Select Speaking Engagements

Moderator, P3 procurement, Infrastructure Public Policy panels, P3 Government Conference, December 2020

Panelist, "Why Do a P3? Building the Business Case for a P3," P3 Higher Education Conference, October 2020

Guest of Inframation Group (Acuris) “Crossroads” Podcast, federal legislative, GASB highlights, June 2020

Guest Lecturer, Innovative Project Delivery Methods graduate seminar, Columbia University, May 2020

Panelist, P3s and Economic Recovery: Legislative Best Practices, Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure (AIAI), Webinar, May 2020

Panelist, Moderator, panels on P3 advisor selection, P3 structuring, The P3 Conference, Dallas, Texas, March 2020

Panelist, Moderator, panels on P3 partnership preservation, P3 structuring, technical requirements, P3 Government Conference, Washington D.C., December 2019 

Moderator, "Ports and One-Off Projects Around the Nation," The Bond Buyer's Transportation Finance/P3 Conference, Denver, CO, November 15, 2019

Panelist, "Making Surety Work for P3s," NCPPP, P3Connect, Denver, CO, May 2019

Moderator, "Infrastructure 2.0: Re-imagining Transportation and Mobility in the Future Industrial City," Science History Institute, T.T. Chao Symposium on Innovation, Houston, TX, April 2019

Moderator/Panelist, "Third-Party Risks in P3 Transactions," P3 Legal Institute, NCPPP Webinar, March 2019

Panelist, "Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships," Economic Development Symposium, Yale School of Management, New Haven, CT, February 2019

Panelist, "P3 Hot Topics," Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), Maryland Chapter, Greenbelt, MD, June 2018

Panelist, "Innovative P3 Arrangements," American Association of Port Authorities, Capital Projects Seminar, Norfolk, VA, May 2018

Moderator, "What's Ahead for U.S. Infrastructure," NCPPP P3 Insights, Washington, D.C., April 2018

Instructor, "Renewable Energy Projects – Key Contracts, including the Power Purchase Agreement," International Law Institute, Washington, D.C., April 2018

Moderator, "Trends in P3 Contract Administration," NCPPP, P3Connect, Miami Beach, FL, January 2018

Panelist, "Government Contracts 2017: Infrastructure Improvements – Impact on Government Contracts," Practising Law Institute, Washington, D.C., September 2017

Instructor, "P3 Case Studies," International Law Institute, Washington, D.C., July and November 2017, July 2018

Instructor, "P3 Case Studies," Institute for Public-Private Partnerships, Arlington, VA, May 2017

Panelist, "Current Issues in Public Private Partnerships for State and Local Procurement," American Bar Association, Public Contract Law Section, State and Local Procurement Symposium, St. Louis, MO, April 2017

Panelist, "Public-Private Partnerships 101," National League of Cities, Congressional City Conference, Washington, D.C., March 2017

Panelist, "The Framework of Public-Private Partnerships," Kentucky Chamber of Commerce/NCPPP Conference, "Kentucky Public-Private Partnerships: Opportunities and Obstacles," Lexington, KY, October 2016

Panelist, "Design-Build in Coal Country: Case Study of 460 Connector Phase II," DBIA Conference, Charlotte, NC, April 2016

Instructor, "Arranging, Structuring and Documenting the Financing of P3s," International Law Institute, Washington, D.C., October 2015

Panelist, "The First Steps in the P3 Process," NCPPP/American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Conference - Georgia Chapter, Atlanta, GA, September 2015

Panelist, "Public-Private Partnerships as a Vehicle for Economic Development & Promotion of the Rule of Law," University of Baltimore School of Law, Journal of Land and Development, Spring 2015 Symposium, Baltimore, MD, April 2015

University of Kansas School of Law (J.D. 2007)
Editor-in-Chief, Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (M.A. 2004)

U.S. Naval Academy (B.S., 1995, with merit)


District of Columbia


U.S. Supreme Court