Over the past year, Florida's PPP and infrastructure programme has showed more promise than any other state, with three projects in various stages of procurement, and a pipeline of new projects in the works. However, despite optimism from some parts of government and from the private sector, no deal has yet reached financial close, and each has encountered a series of obstacles.
Some challenges are not exclusive to Florida transportation development: the ubiquitous difficulties in the debt markets and the associated fallouts from the credit crunch are at the forefront of concern for projects across the nation and beyond. But the slowness of the state- and municipal-level decision-making, and the time-consuming processes involved in using federal funding support programmes, have both had an impact on Florida's developments.
The state has three major transportation projects, at various stages in the procurement process; the forthcoming lease of Alligator Alley, the Port of Miami Tunnel project and the I-595 concession.
The Port of Miami Tunnel
As Project Finance went to press, the fate of the Port of Miami Tunnel project was in the balance, because its primary sponsor, Babcock & Brown is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. All parties, including Florida's Transportation Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos, had expressed a positive outlook for the project, despite its various challenges, most recently when the secretary appeared on 2 December 2008 at Project Finance Magazine's Florida Infrastructure Finance Forum in Miami. However, the Florida Department of Transportation said on 12 December that it will withdraw its support for the project.
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