The vast need for investment in America’s public infrastructure has led to increased calls for the pursuit of public-private partnerships (P3s) as a way to provide needed capital. Proponents of P3s tout advantages like the opportunity for increased flexibility, potential cost savings, and the ability to accelerate projects. Despite the stated benefits, P3s have largely been limited to design-build and design-bid-build contracting in Minnesota. MnDOT also uses design-build and design-bid-build contracts to maximize financial efficiency and minimize traffic disruptions.1
Broadly speaking, P3s are not a solution to all infrastructure problems, though they do offer opportunities to increase the efficiency of project delivery or build additional flexibility into designs.
MnDOT uses other innovative contracting methods and programs extensively. The Transportation & Economic Development program run jointly by MnDOT and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development provides funding for communities where transportation investments can leverage economic development. Occasionally, MnDOT works with private partners who approach the agency with unsolicited proposals for collaboration on infrastructure projects (ex. Bren Road interchange reconstruction at US 169). Innovative contracting strategies like indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity agreements and contract manager / general contractor agreements offer greater flexibility in how MnDOT can leverage efficiencies through work with private-sector consultants.
1. MnDot Design-Build