1. What is a public-private partnership (P3)?
A public-private partnership (P3) is a contract between a government or public agency (federal, state or local) and private sector companies to plan, finance, construct and/or operate a road, bridge or facility. It allows the private sector to do what it does best – like build bridges – and the public sector to do what it does best – protect the public’s interest.
A public-private partnership is cost-effective and quicker than a purely public venture. It splits the risk between public and private entities and reduces the initial capital investment required from the public. Most importantly, it provides alternative sources of funding for financing a project.
2. What are some examples of P3s?
Several megaprojects around the United States are currently using public-private partnerships to deliver infrastructure and economic development projects. Some include the Port of Miami Tunnel, the Cooper River Bridge Replacement Project, a series of large-scale improvements in Virginia, the Ohio River Bridges that span Kentucky and Indiana and The Banks project in Cincinnati, Ohio.
3. Traditionally, the federal government has funded the majority of the cost of infrastructure projects. Why can’t it do it now?
The estimated cost of the bridge project is $2.7 billion. Although the federal government has traditionally paid for 80 percent of mega-transportation projects, to date, no construction money has been identified or allocated toward this project. In addition, the decline in gas tax revenues presents a big challenge to securing federal funds.
While the federal government has said they will help with the funding and financing of the bridge, the local match will be significant. Our elected leaders must come up with a reasonable and realistic funding and financing plan for the project and they must do that now and not wait.
4. What if we don’t find the funding to build a new bridge? What happens? Will the bridge close? Be torn down? Fall in?
If we do not build our new bridge now, the congestion will continue to increase, the bridge will become more dangerous, and our entire regional transportation system will fail. It is imperative that our elected officials lead and move this project forward now.
5. Why is the Coalition raising funds? Is this to build the bridge?
The money being raised by the Coalition does not go to the construction of the bridge. The funds are paying for a robust communications, education, grassroots and legislative advocacy campaign. Many people are not aware of the negative impact the looming travel gridlock will have on our economy, vitality (quality of life, growth and regional identity) and safety.
6. How many jobs will the project create?
It is estimated that anywhere from 60,000 – 80,000 jobs will be created as we design, build and maintain the bridge. This does not include jobs that will result from increased economic development due to a decrease in bridge congestion.
7. Why can’t we just use the other bridges that connect Cincinnati to Northern Kentucky and reduce the number of cars that use the Brent Spence Bridge?
The Brent Spence Bridge is a key component of our regional transportation system. As congestion grows on the BSB, so does congestion on every major transportation route in the area. Think about how construction on one road increases traffic on others. That’s why “going around” will not work. It’s not practical for commerce or travelers.
8. What is the Build Our New Bridge Now Coalition? Who are the members?
The Build Our New Bridge Now Coalition is a group of business, political, and civic leaders who are working together to advocate for public support, enabling legislation and government funding for the Brent Spence Bridge project. We are more than 120 members strong.
9. How can I get involved?
You can join the Build Our New Bridge Now Coalition and support our education efforts and legislative advocacy. You can voice your support for the project and tell your legislator the need for the new bridge to be built now. This includes making a call to your state and federal elected officials, emailing them or posting a message on their social media channels. You can also support the campaign with a monetary donation.
10. Are tolls the only way to pay for building and maintaining a new bridge?
While the federal government has said they will help fund and finance the bridge, it is expected that the local match will be significant. Our elected leaders must come up with a reasonable and realistic funding and financing plan now so we can put a shovel in the ground in 2015. The Governors of both states have said this funding plan will include tolls.
11. What do you mean by “other financing?”
There are a variety of options to finance the project besides tolls. These include but are not limited to: a supplemental fuel tax, vehicle registration fees, sales tax revenues, tax increment financing and/or naming rights. However, both Governors have said tolls will be a part of the funding plan.
12. If tolls are a part of the bridge, how much will they cost?
It is too early in the process to determine how much they would be. We will not know until our elected leaders create and vote on a reasonable and realistic funding and financing plan.
13. Would I have to stop and pay money in a toll booth? Wouldn’t that cause the same amount of congestion we have now?
No, you would not pay a toll to a typical money booth. The tolling would be electronic, as is widely used, and includes options such as high speed and low speed lanes, local and through traffic lanes and/or discounts for high users. Electronic tolling presents a variety of options for how to execute payment without slowing you down.
14. How will we save $8 million per month if we build the bridge sooner?
Every month we wait to build a new bridge means higher material and labor costs. That means it will cost more to build the bridge and our region will have to raise more money. We must investigate innovative ways to fund and finance project costs and create the public-private partnerships necessary to build the bridge.
15. Why can’t we wait to build the bridge?
Federal transportation officials have labeled the bridge “functionally obsolete” due to insufficient lane widths, shoulder widths, vertical clearances and other factors that prevent the bridge from serving current and future traffic demands. As our region grows, bridge traffic, collisions and deaths will also continue to increase.
16. I seldom use the bridge; why should I care?
As our region continues to grow, so will congestion and gridlock on the Brent Spence Bridge. Motorists will take alternate routes around the bridge, which will create more traffic, congestion and gridlock elsewhere in the region. Today’s trip from downtown to the airport will triple from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours.
Tractor trailer traffic will make the situation worse. Truck traffic on the bridge has increased from approximately 12,000 in 1990 to 40,000 today, which accounts for about one quarter of all traffic on the bridge. Interstate truck traffic is projected to grow 10 percent by 2030.
17. Where will the new bridge go?
Current plans show the new bridge will be just west of the existing bridge. The existing bridge will be rehabbed and repurposed for I-71 N traffic. The value for money study will help to either confirm or change these plans.
18. What will the new bridge look like?
Renderings of possible designs can be found at http://www.brentspencebridgecorridor.com/.
19. If the project becomes fully funded, how soon can it be completed?
Once funding is secured, the bridge could be completed using innovative building methods in as short as three years.
20. When will construction start? When will it be completed?
Nothing can start without funding. If we push our legislators to start allocating funding and financing options for the project, construction could begin as early as 2014 and be completed by 2018. On the current timetable, assuming funding is allocated, construction is slated to start between 2016 and 2018 and be completed in 2023. This is unacceptable.
21. How much will the project cost?
Currently, the project is estimated to cost $2.7 billion. However, with every month that passes where we don’t start construction on the bridge, the labor and construction cost rise about $8 million – so about $100 million per year. That is why it is so important that we start as soon as possible. The value for money study will value engineer the project and help to determine the real costs associated with this project.
22. Which state owns the bridge?
Kentucky owns the Brent Spence Bridge.
23. Are Ohio and Kentucky working together on the project?
Yes. Elected officials, community leaders, transportation departments, Chambers of Commerce and businesses from both states have agreed to work together. Recently, a memorandum of understanding was agreed upon by Ohio and Kentucky to jointly fund a Value for Money study that explore the best ways to fund and finance the project as well as value engineer the project to bring overall costs down.