ODOT to form public-private partnership for autonomous vehicle testing

Ohio– The city of Columbus will be testing self-driving shuttle buses this year and to get those autonomous wheels turning, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has released a request for proposals that will be due Aug. 13. Vehicle testing is to start in October, with service to begin in December and continue into 2019. Each shuttle will hold roughly 12 passengers and an operator will be on-board to take over the shuttle if necessary.

 

This is a collaborative project between Smart Columbus, ODOT’s DriveOhio, the state agency devoted to autonomous-vehicle research and Ohio State University. The test is a result of Columbus winning the Smart City Challenge in 2016 and receiving $40 million grant from the United States Department of Transportation and a $10 million grant from Paul G. Allen Philanthropies.

 

The downtown shuttle service will be the first of a three-phase program that will include future testing in other locations of the city. According to the proposal, the fleet operations will be similar to a traditional transit service, with predetermined routes and stops. The first automated-vehicle pilot of the series aims to provide a shuttle service to help circulate people within a developing area adjacent to downtown Columbus. The test is meant to evaluate self-driving vehicles and to develop guidelines for self-driving technology that could be used by cities throughout the country.

Prince George’s County explores P3 for school projects

Maryland-The Prince George’s County Council has adopted a council resolution, CR-33-2018, establishing a Public-Private Partnership (P3) Alternative Financing School Infrastructure Work Group to explore a P3 concept for school construction and replacement projects in the county. The 2018 Maryland General Assembly also enacted Senate Bill 92 this session, establishing an incentive pilot program to encourage local school systems in three counties, including Prince George’s, to pursue innovative, public school construction projects. The P3 Work Group will identify projects and solicit private-sector support by working with the school system and county executive to hire a consultant to create the structure to launch a P3. It is anticipated that five to seven projects may be initially identified.

 

Under the legislation, the P3 Work Group will provide quarterly status reports summarizing the status of implementation, key initiatives or studies planned and an estimated timetable for delivery of recommendations for program implementation. The first quarterly report will be due on Oct. 1, 2018. The Prince George’s County Council also approved a record $4.09 billion in spending for fiscal year 2019, an increase of $215 million, or 5.5 percent over the current budget. If the budget is approved by county executive Rushern Baker III, the spending plan will take effect on July 1.

San Francisco seeks P3 for city-wide fiber network

California– San Francisco is moving ahead with plans for a public-private partnership (P3) to build a city-wide fiber network that will encompass the almost 47-square miles of the city. The city has issued a request for information (RFI) for the project and also plans to select five proposals by April 30. The city will then issue a follow-up request by the end of the year for three proposals to enter into the design phase. Early estimates put the cost of the project around $1.9 billion.

 

The network would be owned by the city but built and managed as a P3 – an arrangement that allows the city to alleviate some of the costs and risks of creating a brand-new utility. The city would maintain significant control over the price consumers would pay if they sign up for the service. The new network is expected to include subsidized rates to close the digital divide for low income residents. Currently about 100,000 residents of the city don’t have internet in their home.

Long-term concession plans considered for turnpike system

New Hampshire– Portions of the New Hampshire Turnpike system may soon be privatized. The state’s public-private partnership (P3) Infrastructure Oversight Committee have considered P3 plan for long-term concession agreements. The three highways chosen for the turnpike project were opened in the 1950s. The project includes developing and operating service plazas and rest areas with dining, fuel and retail concessions along the highways.

 

The P3 will allow for the sharing of resources to finance, design, build, operate and maintain transportation infrastructure projects. The plan was developed after Gov. Chris Sununu shared a proposal by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to raise tolls on the turnpikes to accelerate completion of improvements to the roads.