Ten years after Washington, D.C., created its Office of Public-Private Partnerships, the district’s first P3 project is well underway.
The district broke its P3 drought in May 2022 with the $309 million DC Smart Lighting Project, which involves upgrading its entire streetlight network of more than 75,000 lights to LEDs.
The upgrades – which help better direct light onto roads, sidewalks and trails – are part of of D.C.’s Vision Zero plan, which has set a goal of zero motorist, cyclist or pedestrian fatalities. The LEDs also reduce light pollution and improve energy efficiency, officials said.
The project also involves installing remote monitoring technology, brightness control and wireless access points to expand the city’s WiFi network, district officials said.
“Thanks to our new LED streetlights platform, DDOT is notified when a light is out or malfunctioning, allowing the agency to deploy a service team to make the necessary adjustments,” said Sharon Kershbaum, interim director of DDOT.
The project is expected to be completed in 2024. More than 40,000 streetlights have been installed so far, the district recently announced.
The Public Private Partnership Act of 2014 created the Office of Public-Private Partnerships, which reports to the city administrator. The office’s purpose is to streamline the procurement process and ensure public participation and transparency in P3 development.
The office encourages private investment in major public-works projects and establishes a clear framework for securing P3s in D.C.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said in 2014 when the office was created that it could help tackle billions of dollars worth of unfunded infrastructure needs.
Now, years later, the office appears to be on its way to fulfilling that promise.
“When we introduced and passed the Public-Private Partnership Act of 2014, I knew that it would allow us to deliver on major infrastructure projects like this one in an efficient and cost-effective way,” Mayor Bowser said.
The ability to take advantage of P3s allowed for a lot of flexibility, the district said.
After awarding the project in February 2022. The Council of the District of Columbia approved a $309 million contract with Plenary Infrastructure DC (PIDC), which is financing the project costs. The project is supported with $160 million financed through the DC Bond Revenue Program, which was strengthened with private activity bonds from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
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Photo courtesy of the DC Smart Street Lighting Project