The Heritage Foundation has published a lengthy and nuanced view explaining and promoting the expanded used of public private partnerships (P3s) to help fund the federal transportation program. The Policy Brief also includes a good overview of how the House and Senate authorization proposals treat P3s.
The Brief also summarizes the recent history of transportation P3s, although there’s no discussion of the problematic projects such as California’s SR 91 (Orange County) and SR 125 projects and the controversial Indiana Toll Road project. For brief discussions of those projects see “The Limitations of Public-Private Partnerships: Recent Lessons from the Surface Transportation and Real Estate” (summary) (32-page pdf).
Here’s a link to the Heritage Policy Brief and a summary:
Given tight federal budget restraints and shrinking transportation trust fund revenues, states and the federal government need to find alternative financial resources to finance needed transportation infrastructure projects, especially maintaining and expanding the capacity of the Interstate Highway System. Increased use of public–private partnership contracts (P3s) promises to help finance some of the needed infrastructure projects, but the federal government needs to allow states more freedom to use P3s, and states need to adopt the policies and practices needed to use P3s effectively. P3s are not the solution to every transportation infrastructure challenge, but they can be used to address some of the challenges.
Another report recently published on this issue comes from The Reason Foundation: “Risks and Rewards of Public-Private Partnerships for Highways” (link to 5-page PDF).
USDOT also has a good information center on P3s.