Public-private partnerships are becoming increasingly common in local communities throughout the United States. While such partnerships can provide huge benefits to governments in the form of cost savings, and businesses in the form of revenue, such arrangements are not without their complications. In fact, one of the most difficult aspects of public-private partnerships involves negotiating business contracts and the all too common contract disputes that can follow.
It was recently reported that after extended contract disputes and negotiations an agreement to hand the maintenance and tolling of U.S. 36 to a private firm has been finalized. According to reports, on Thursday, February 20, the Colorado State Transportation Commission unanimously signed off on an agreement that will allow Plenary Roads Denver to handle tolling and maintenance on the Boulder Turnpike. The stretch of U.S. 36 governed under the contract is between Boulder and Denver and the agreement runs for 50 years.
Despite sometimes acrimonious public meetings and heated debates, state officials have said the contract agreement marks a new day in public private partnerships in Colorado. According to the Denver Post, the agreement commits Plenary Roads Denver, an association of six companies, to complete the next phase of the U.S. 36 Managed Lanes Project as well as maintain the corridor until 2063. Under the terms of the agreement, Plenary will collect all proceeds from the turnpike toll lanes currently under construction.
Public-private partnerships are a huge source of cost savings for local governments as well as revenue for local businesses. Unfortunately, negotiating contracts with a democratic entity bound to the will of a diverse constituency can be incredibly complicated. When a contract dispute does arise, however, or a negotiation begins to become heated, a skilled negotiator can be an important resource. In fact, it can be much more than a resource; it can be the difference between a deal and a lot of wasted time.
Source: The Denver Post, "Last piece of U.S. 36 contract put in place Thursday," Monte Whaley, Feb. 21, 2014