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Roles and Responsibilities

The Transportation Partnerships Office is the agency’s focal point for engaging the private sector in unique public/private partnerships that can help advance important transportation projects, programs, or policies. The Office seeks to combine or realign the traditional roles of business and government in ways that result in projects that exceed what the parties could achieve if acting strictly within their traditional roles.

The Transportation Partnerships Office concentrates activities in four key areas:

Consultation and Advisory Services

The Transportation Partnerships Office serves as a resource to public officials for alternative financing techniques and innovative project development. To provide this expertise, professional staff stays informed on laws, regulations, and programs affecting transportation financing and explores emerging trends and techniques used to develop transportation projects in the U.S. and around the world.

The Transportation Partnerships Office consults with both private industry and other public officials on the potential for public/private partnerships to help advance specific transportation projects. Consultations can be conducted in commerically confidential meetings well in advance of any specific proposals for project development.

The Office also provides project development advice to agency administrators, project engineers, and elected or appointed officials in the executive and legislative branches as requested.

Analysis and Assessment

The Transportation Partnerships Office is committed to ensuring that public/private partnerships deliver value to the public. The first step in the project development process involves an analysis and assessment of the potential benefits, costs, and risks associated with a potential project. Transportation projects that are extremely complex or unusual sometimes require the specialized expertise of outside consultants or advisers.

Analysis and assessment are conducted formally when specific funding is provided for such evaluations and, less formally, as professional staff continually explore and investigate new ideas and opportunities to advance transportation projects, programs, and priorities. Two recent examples of formal analysis and assessment include Ferry Terminal Joint Development Opportunities Analysis and Alternative Fuels Corridor Economic Feasibility Analysis.

Less formally, the Transportation Partnerships Office provides analysis and assessment of whether a public/private partnership arrangement can provide significant additional funding (or other benefits) for transportation mega-projects. A recent example is an analysis of the PPP funding potential for the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV project (see Reports, Studies, and Presentations). The Office continues to provide these services to mega-project teams throughout the state.

Project Development

If public value can be gained, potential public/private partnership projects can be advanced to the project development phase. The Transportation Partnerships Office is responsible for carrying out the new Transportation Innovative Partnership (TIP) Program, which is a formal process for the state to solicit, review, negotiate, and execute public/private partnership agreements for transportation projects. Final approval for projects developed under the TIP Program rests with the Washington State Transportation Commission, as required under RCW 47.29.

Not all transportation partnership projects must be developed under the TIP Program. In some instances, WSDOT has legal authority to enter into agreements with other public or private partners to develop transportation projects. Recent examples of public/private partnerships developed under other statutory powers include land leases with cellular phone companies, management of for-pay parking facilities, and retail restaurant and other commercial enterprises at ferry terminals.

Projects that are not initiated by the state but rather proposed by other public or private parties, are known as unsolicited proposals. The Transportation Partnerships Office is responsible for carrying out the unsolicited proposal review process mandated in RCW 47.29 and WAC 468-600. At this time, a moratorium (pdf 90kb) is in effect on the state’s ability to review and take action on unsolicited proposals.

For more information on projects currently under development, see Active Projects and Studies.

Liaison and Representation

The Transportation Partnerships Office serves as a conduit between the State of Washington and the private sector for the development of transportation public/private partnership projects. The Office provides information, helps explain state laws, policies and programs to the private sector, and serves as a path-finder for entities seeking to do business with WSDOT.

The Office also maintains contact and serves as a resource on transportation public/private partnerships to elected and appointed officials within state and local government. Professional staff participates in national associations and summits, serve on expert panels, provide information and make public presentations, and represent the interests of Washington state within the field of transportation public/private partnerships.