Transportation Innovation: Shedding a Light on Safety Upgrades
Aug. 18, 2015—Your commute in Metro Detroit will soon by brighter and safer. Using innovative contracting, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will enter a public-private partnership (P3) agreement to upgrade and maintain freeway lights in Detroit’s tri-county area. The country’s first P3 dedicated to freeway lighting was approved today by the State Administrative Board.
Of the approximately 15,000 freeway lights in the metro area, 87 percent are now high-pressure sodium or metal halide fixtures. The P3 contract will replace those outdated lights with energy-efficient LED lights in the first two years.
Currently, close to 70 percent of the freeway lights are working. Much of this is due to fiscal constraints, multiple instances of copper theft, and other challenges. The P3 contract mandates that 90 percent of the lights are operational after the first year and 98 percent after the second year. The vendor is contractually obligated to monitor all lighting infrastructure while identifying and repairing deficiencies.
Taxpayers will save as the annual cost of the services under this contract is expected to be lower than what MDOT would have to pay for upgrades. This contract also allows MDOT maintenance forces to focus on other issues.
In addition, improving freeway lighting enhances motorist visibility and traffic safety. Conversion to LED lights, economies of scale that lower equipment costs, and transferring risk while creating incentives to a private partner ensure effective operation and maintenance.
“Keeping our busy highways well-lit is vitally important for safety,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “This innovative arrangement ensures that we have better, more efficient lights, improving the service for the residents and businesses using these roads every day.”
The contract safeguards public funds through stipulations for performance measures. Criteria spelled out in the contract must be met or exceeded in order for the P3 vendor to earn maximum dollar value. If criteria is not met, there will be deductions in payment.
The P3 vendor, Freeway Lighting Partners (FLP), is a consortium led by Star America Fund with participation from Aldridge Electric, Parsons Brinkerhoff, and Cofely Services. The agreement is over a 15-year time frame and is expected to save taxpayers over the life of the contract.