Webinar Series: Innovation in Practice
This event took place May 1, 2019.
Public Private Partnership (P3) projects often lead to special oversight challenges during the environmental review process required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The use of alternative delivery approaches such as Design-Build (D-B), and Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (D-B-F-O-M) contracts that introduce private financing can create conflict between optimizing design for cost effectiveness by the DB firms, providing surety to potential bidders during procurement, and the limited design cleared through the NEPA process. Further, the alternatives considered in NEPA may not be those best suited for a P3, creating a circumstance that requires additional study once the private entity engages in the project. Elements unique to the P3 arrangement require special care in advancing a project through planning, environmental review, procurement, and delivery. Inappropriately managing the project development of a P3 project may result in a procurement policy that creates unnecessary risk for the NEPA process or selecting an alternative in NEPA that is infeasible as a P3 project.
Recent statutory and regulatory changes to accelerate the environmental review process for transportation projects create opportunities to deliver major infrastructure projects faster. However, as P3 projects become more prevalent, particularly for large, complex infrastructure projects, how these streamlining measures effect the unique characteristics of P3 projects becomes increasingly important to understand. There have been a number of research projects and policy guidance documents that examine and address the intersections of innovative finance and efforts to streamline the environmental approval process, and AASHTO's Center for Environmental Excellence is currently compiling them into one document, which will be released in the coming weeks. In light of the increasing number of examples and existing research and guidance, this webinar touched on future trends and research needs in this area.
This webinar provided an introduction to the topic, the state of the field nationally, and highlighted examples of interactions between NEPA and P3 projects. This webinar outlined considerations specific to P3s before and during the NEPA process, unexpected challenges that have arisen in past projects, and future trends on the subject. Speakers included Eric Beightel of WSP and Bill Malley of Perkins Coie.