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74 T R A N S P O RTAT I O N F I N A N C E essary to accommodate financial innovation is often · Stability, ephemeral. · Predictability, · Continuity, and · Acceptability. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY Aside from forming a clever acronym (SPCA), these four characteristics are the most relevant attributes for Closely linked to environmental permitting and local projects seeking innovative financing. Simply defined, governance is the area of community and public involve- the characteristics are as follows: ment. It is virtually impossible in the United States today to enter into the planning and development of an infra- · Stability is the ability to trust that multiyear fund- structure project of any significance without suitable ing commitments pledged for repayment of traditional and acceptable roles for community groups, special- and innovative financing instruments, such as interest organizations, and the general public. The pub- GARVEEs, SIB loans, and TIFIA credit assistance, will lic participation process is provided for and facilitated be met with minimized revenue risk. by a huge body of federal and local legislation. Advisory · Predictability is the ability to predict what a pro- committees, public members of agency boards, and ject will cost and when it will be implemented. This required responses to all input are but a few of the poli- minimizes cost risk and implementation risk. cies and programs that have promoted the key role of · Continuity is the ability to trust that the political citizens in the planning and approval process. will to get a project done will continue across changes Has this role exceeded the bounds of practicality? in political office--the ability to know that agency deci- Short of entering into an open-ended debate, there is lit- sions made will be maintained over the project devel- tle merit to attempting to answer the question. From a opment process. This minimizes political risk and its more cynical perspective, the following are the more close relative, implementation risk. appropriate questions: · Acceptability is the ability to streamline and expedite the process for achieving substantial effective · Have we conferred too much power (indeed, in many consent (if not consensus) among involved cases a veto power) on average citizens to affect or even agencies and the ability to have lead agencies function stop the development of infrastructure that a coalition of as ombudsmen--or, in the language of the executive informed elected representatives has sanctioned? order, as environmental stewards--throughout the · Has our form of participatory democracy trans- process. ferred too great a power of assent to nonrepresentative groups or individual citizens, while at the same time allow- To take best advantage of the executive order in cre- ing duly elected officials to shirk their decision-making ating the list of priority projects, financial and nonfi- duty by chanting "let the public speak?" nancial aspects must both be addressed to ensure · Have our federal environmental laws facilitated a stability, predictability, continuity, and acceptability. process that encourages and facilitates capricious litiga- During this period of reauthorization, it is important tion by individuals and special-interest groups often that we stand back and focus also on the required statu- simply aimed at delaying or eliminating infrastructure tory changes and innovations in the nonfinancial projects rather than providing constructive input to aspects of projects that are companion to innovations in project sponsors? financing. Such statutory changes and innovations do · Should federal law, like many of the state environ- not require bypassing the environmental and regulatory mental laws, have a statute of limitations, which, after process, but rather managing the process to create a expiration, permits no suits, litigation, or other action by more SPCA-friendly environment within which projects the public that could affect the project in ways potentially can be built. significant to the financial marketplace? In determining the likelihood of expedited project delivery--whether by using traditional or nontradi- tional financing methods--methodologists could calcu- EXPEDITING PROJECT DELIVERY: A CHALLENGE late an "SPCA index" that could be an indicator of TO THE TRANSPORTATION FINANCE COMMUNITY potential success. This requires looking beyond innova- tive finance to focus energy on the political, institu- In our view, there are four keys to fully unlocking the tional, and regulatory side of the project development plethora of innovative financial tools available for process and allowing SPCA to take care of the runts of expediting transportation infrastructure projects: the litter.