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INNOVATORS: FINALISTS

Financing Infrastructure

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Green City: Coming to Philadelphia.(Rendering Courtesy of Architect Kieran Timberlake)

Florida Interstate 595 Improvements

Florida provided a model for infrastructure improvements in cash-strapped times when it inked a deal in 2009 to ease congestion and upgrade Interstate 595. Under the agreement, the state of Florida will pay a Spanish-led group as much as $1.8 billion over 35 years to design, build, operate, and maintain three new lanes. Once the road opens, Spanish company Actividades de Construcción and Servicios will be paid back over 35 years based on performance measures; Florida will set toll rates and pocket additional revenue. The involvement of private players means the project will be completed much faster and Florida will be shielded from the cost of overruns.

Philadelphia Green City, Clean Waters Plan

To battle storm-water runoff that was seeping, untreated, into water-ways in the area, the city of Philadelphia launched the ambitious 25-year Green City, Clean Waters plan. The city will invest $1.2 billion, drawn from sewer and water billing, to sprout green roofs, tree-lined streets, and porous pavement throughout the city, instead of building more concrete tunnels and underground tanks. To retrofit 10,000 urban acres, Philadelphia has also set new standards for development projects: The city will allow property owners to take a credit against their monthly fees when they do their own enhancements, and it has come up with a menu of financing options for green upgrades.

 

Chicago Infrastructure Trust

Chicago became the first U.S. city to take the lead in leveraging private capital to complete public infrastructure projects when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the creation of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust in 2012. The nonprofit agency—the first of its kind—will develop customized financing structures for each project it undertakes, using taxable or tax-exempt debt, equity investment, and other forms of support to draw in private investors. The trust already has an inaugural project: Investors are pouring $225 million into energy-efficiency upgrades to 100 municipal buildings; they will be paid back through the savings in city energy bills over the course of 15 years.

Los Angeles 30/10 Initiative

Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa spearheaded an effort to compress 30 years’ worth of transit projects into a single decade through his 30/10 Initiative, by having the federal government lend the city the money—about $8 billion in all—up front. Congress passed the measure in the 2012 transportation bill. Los Angeles will pay the loan back over 30 years through a half-cent sales tax the county approved in 2008. The 12 rail projects accelerated by the initiative will boost the local economy, cut congestion, and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, Villaraigosa says.

 

 

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