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Tolling Points

Five Takeaways from the Infrastructure Investment Summit

By: 
Bill Cramer

IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Patrick D. Jones had the opportunity to attend the Infrastructure Investment Summit yesterday. The Summit, hosted by the U.S Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of Transportation, sought solutions to the funding crisis facing all forms of infrastructure, including highways. Featured speakers included Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

“The economic case for expanding infrastructure investment is clear, yet public investment has been declining as part of a long-term trend toward fiscal consolidation and lower public investment,” concluded a Treasury Department report released during the Summit. “Innovation in financing, technology, and management can help reverse this decline and speed the modernization of our infrastructure networks.”

“We couldn’t agree more,” Jones replied. “Now is the time to incorporate new and innovative ways to fund our nation’s transportation infrastructure.” He added that “all options should be on the table so that states can choose the funding and financing methods that work best for them.”

Here are Jones’ top five takeaways from the Summit.

The Administration is engaged and focused on infrastructure financing solutions. The clear message from the Departments of Transportation and Treasury is that they are ‘open for business’ and looking for ways to maximize the use of federal financing programs to stimulate infrastructure investment, with an emphasis on public private partnerships,” Jones wrote in a briefing to IBTTA members.

Private investors are out there to be mobilized. A recurring theme throughout the day was that there is private capital available to invest in infrastructure renewal. If a deal is structured with care and risk is allocated appropriately, that capital will flow.

Tolling is on the Administration’s radar. Transportation Secretary Foxx mentioned tolling in his opening remarks, and other speakers used tolling examples to illustrate public-private partnerships that worked.

The sense of urgency is widespread. Summit participants included representatives of local governments, institutional investors, state and local public works and transportation agencies, pension funds, labor unions, and infrastructure associations. The infrastructure deficit has been accumulating for a generation or more, but the diversity of this gathering pointed to a growing chorus of voices supporting effective, comprehensive solutions.

The tolling industry is at the table. “Out of approximately 130 participants. I was honored to be invited and proud to represent the tolling industry, Jones said.”

“Robust infrastructure investment is vital to a strong U.S. economy,” Jones said, and the Summit “was a unique opportunity for the tolling industry to engage with other stakeholders in high-level discussions about how to strengthen infrastructure investment in the U.S.”

As the Treasury Department report, Expanding our Nation’s Infrastructure through Innovative Financing,  points out, the stakes surrounding those discussions were high. “Our nation needs to continually modernize and maintain our infrastructure to make the United States an attractive place for businesses to operate and for people to live,” Treasury noted. “If we fail to provide and maintain adequate infrastructure, the consequences will be severe.”

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