Exporting Florida’s P3 Successes (And Which Should We Import?) | Bilzin Sumberg

Earlier this month, the Biden administration agreed to provide financial support to Brightline West, which will be a privately operated high-speed inter-city rail system connecting Las Vegas and Southern California. As its name might suggest, Brightline West is affiliated with the owners and developers of Brightline here in Florida, which is currently the only privately operated inter-city rail system in the United States. As of September of this year, Brightline is now connecting Miami and Orlando, with stops in Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach, and the system has the potential for additional expansions to other parts of the state. Brightline is also the product of years of innovation and partnerships between the private and public sectors. Although the rail system is privately owned and operated, multiple stations were developed using public land and a P3 model, and Brightline worked closely with local, state, and federal authorities to make the project a success — this collaboration included zoning and other regulatory changes and approvals, as well as allocations of private activity bonds to obtain favorable financing. Ten years ago, we wrote a blog post about the potential for P3s to play a role in Brightline (then called All Aboard Florida) and other rail infrastructure, and there is no better evidence of that potential becoming reality than the path to success Brightline has taken, and continues to take, through Florida and now on the West Coast of the United States.  

Brightline is no doubt a shining example of Florida being on the cutting edge of P3 infrastructure innovation, and Brightline West is an equally compelling example of Florida exporting its innovations to other states. Exporting and importing great ideas from other jurisdictions is the bedrock of successful public-private partnerships in the United States. Unlike other countries such as Canada, where P3s are relatively standardized with established practices and forms of agreements, in the United States, each jurisdiction is left to forge its own path. A key benefit of our relatively disaggregated system is that jurisdictions have an opportunity to innovate — and whenever a jurisdiction tries a new idea and succeeds, that idea can be replicated elsewhere. Last month, we published a blog post that referenced a new P3 in Maryland to deliver new K-8 public schools, and we frequently describe successful projects throughout the United States. Watching Brightline West take shape should not merely be a source of pride in what Miami-based innovators have accomplished here, but also an inspiration to look elsewhere for great ideas. Information can travel in both directions, and Florida can import P3 successes as well.

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