Project Name

Multimodal Enhancements to Public Private Partnerships

Research Team

Emily Parkany

Changju Lee

John Miller



Mid-Atlantic University Transportation Center (Penn State University)

Project Dates

September 2013 through May 2015

Project Description

The initial research need was as follows: “PPTA [Public Private Transportation Act] projects will continue to be a vital funding mechanism for Virginia’s transportation infrastructure, and no TPRAC research project will affect that outcome. However, ther
e may be opportunities for Virginia to encourage multimodal considerations in PPTA projects that might otherwise not occur. This research would examine PPTA projects in other states and ask (1) were such projects multimodal(if not, why not?) and (2)how the multimodal aspects were implemented for such projects. (For example, project A might have included alternative modes as a way to “sell” the project to the community whereas project B might have included alternative modes because it increased revenue for bondholders). The research would need to be coordinated with the Virginia P3office. (Shanjiang Zhu suggested that elements of this work may already be underway by he and Jonathan Gifford at


During a meeting with Virginia’s Public Private Partnership (P3) Office, it
became clear that what hampers implementation of “multimodal” projects is
their financial viability. For example, a project will initially be proposed as a
transit and highway project at the conceptual stage, however, as the project
moves through negotiations, the non-highway components may be dropped in
order to render the project financially viable. These comments from the P3
office fundamentally changed the authors’ understanding of the research need.
However, that meeting also suggested two additional questions that may be of
interest to that office, and those questions, along with the original research
need, are as follows:
First, to what extent are tolls and user fees fundamentally new ways of paying
for transportation services?
The P3 office suggested that a literature review based on the history of tolled facilities could show the extent to which such facilities have been used in the past. Although tolls are presently seen as a relatively new approach for financing highway construction, they were more common prior to the interstate construction that began in the late 1950s. To that end, a literature review would be germane.
Second, to what extent can P3 projects impact land development, including increasing (or decreasing) the value of that land?
Certainly a wealth of studies have examined how transportation influences land use and models have been developed in this regard; examples include the well-known DRAM/EMPALAL proaches as well as more recent microscopic models (e.g., URBANSIM).
It may (or may not) be the case, however, that tolled facilities have a different
impact on land development than untolled facilities. (For example, assuming a
36 cent per gallon fuels tax (18 cents federal and 18 cents state and 20 miles
per gallon), one is paying a toll of about two cents per mile. By contrast, for a
P3, one may be paying a higher toll—if that toll is a $1 per mile, this is a 50
fold increase.) With such higher tolls, it may be the case that P3s have a
different impact on land use than a free facility in that the higher tolls make
certain areas more accessible but only for certain types of users who are willing
to pay a much larger toll.
Third, what is a taxonomy for classifying proposed P3 projects as multimodal?
This taxonomy should consider not just the number of modes served but the
probability of multiple modes being realized as a function of the project
development process, given the inherent uncertainty in P3 negotiations. For
example, a highway project that includes a transit component and which has
progressed to the final design stage would have a higher degree of multimodality than a comparable project which had only initiated the scoping
stage, given the likelihood of the transit component being dropped.

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