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Christine Murray
Senior Director
Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce

KINETIC – Funding the Future: Infrastructure, Innovation & Public-Private Partnerships Today for Tomorrow's Transportation Needs

National and local experts discussed the financing of transportation and infrastructure systems in need of modern fixes, during an event hosted by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with MARC and the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City.
Ted Hamer, Managing Director with KPMG in Chicago, depicted in numbers what we all feel while we're driving on the roads. According to Hamer, at least $4.5 trillion is needed for our current transportation investments. The current interstate system is more than 60 years old. The type of vision that created the system is what is needed to update our current reality, which includes finding new funding sources. As Hamer stated, "The motor fuel tax is on its death bed - honestly, it's been struggling since the 90's." With that in mind, if current infrastructure trends continue or are accelerated, most of us won't be driving a car with an internal combustion engine in ten years. Thus, the way we fund our current transportation system continues to be up for discussion.
Based on these clear transportation models, Hamer suggested that we need to be looking for new financing options or P3's (Public-Private Partnerships). A private partner won’t create funding, but it will create leverage with the right tools. P3's have been reviewed as a potential tool, and they definitely aren’t right for every project. P3's can be a great option if the due diligence is done to get the right partner and the right project in place. Of course, regardless of how a project is funded, without proper maintenance the project will come full circle into a state of disrepair.
In addition, communities including the Kansas City region really need to think about generating new investments and new revenue…there's no such thing as free money. It's important to explore all options with the use of value capture; special taxing districts, TIFs, etc. Based on economics, you have to let the market tell you that they want projects in the $100 million-dollar range, but that's not always necessary. Sometimes it makes sense to bundle projects.
Other presenters included Michael DeMers of MoDOT, who provided an overview of his agency’s experience with a wide range of innovative funding options and procurement methods. Dennis Hays of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority discussed his agency’s new approach to revenue capture through transit oriented development projects as well as the role private-sector providers have played in reducing costs through innovative service delivery models such as RideKC Freedom. Gretchen Ivy of HNTB provided another private sector perspective on the role of P3s in other states and regions and reinforced the importance of strong public-sector policies in delivering successful P3 partnerships.

Posted: 9/28/2017 10:17:10 AM