This past month, Rep. Mike Schultz, House Committee Transportation Chair, gave an exclusive recap of the top transportation bills of the 2017 legislative session to the Salt Lake Chamber’s Utah Transportation Coalition. Rep. Schultz discussed how the Utah Transportation Coalition played a central role in these issues and gave a behind the scenes look into the legislative process behind these policies.
A New Tool to Address Utah’s Infrastructure Needs
The Utah Legislature has significantly increased its commitment to infrastructure over the past two Legislative sessions. Now revenue may not be the greatest limiting factor to infrastructure investment. According to a 2015 study, Utah faces an astounding $60 billion to both maintain and provide infrastructure at every level over the next twenty years.
This does not include the increasing demands for state dollars for capital facilities. Current practices emphasize projects being awarded to the lowest capital cost bidder with little attention to the life-cycle costs and operational risks of a project.
This requires new innovative approaches to infrastructure investment, finance and operations. To enhance the state’s legacy of infrastructure investment additional policy tools, specifically a state statute clarifying the use of Public-Private Partnerships, was needed.
To address this need, S.B.204, Public Private Partnerships was passed during this session. The bill enacts language relating to the use of public-private partnerships in the procurement of projects. This ensures Utah has access to another tool for procuring or managing public infrastructure with partnerships between the public and private sectors to allocate design, construction, financing and long-term maintenance risks to the party best equipped to address them.
The Utah Transportation Coalition has actively explored these types of partnerships over the last two years including multiple forums, meetings and presentations from leading experts on the topic to its members. S.B. 204 not only reflects a growing national interest in these types of partnerships, but also Utah’s need for another tool to procure, finance and manage extensive infrastructure projects.
The Utah Transportation Coalition is a group of business and civic leaders working together to protect Utah’s environment, improve the economy and preserve our quality of life through strategic transportation investments. The Coalition is an established, long-term organization advocating specifically for responsible transportation investment to keep Utah’s economy moving.