The General Assembly hereby finds and declares that:
(a) It is essential for the economic, social and environmental well being of the State and the maintenance of a high quality of life that the citizens of the State have an efficient transportation system.
(b) The State has limited resources to fund the maintenance and expansion of the State transportation system and therefore alternative funding sources should be developed to supplement public revenue sources.
(c) A significant alternative to public revenue sources is a public-private sector initiatives program permitting private entities to undertake all or a portion of the study, planning, design, development, financing, acquisition, installation, construction, improvement, expansion, repair, operation and maintenance of public transportation projects for the citizens of Delaware in exchange for the right to lease or own the facilities for an agreed-upon period and earn a reasonable rate of return through tolls or user fees.
(d) In addition to alleviating the strain on the public treasury and allowing the State to use its limited resources for other needed projects, public-private initiative projects also do all of the following:
(1) Take advantage of private sector efficiencies in designing and building transportation projects and financial and development expertise;
(2) Allow for the rapid formation of capital necessary for funding transportation projects;
(3) More quickly reduce congestion in existing transportation corridors and provide the public with alternate route and mode selections;
(4) Provide the opportunity to link transportation investments with land use measures which further the State's growth management and clean air policies;
(5) Provide sound investment opportunities for the private sector; and
(6) Require continued compliance with environmental requirements and applicable state and federal laws that all publicly financed projects must address.
(e) The Department should be permitted and encouraged to test the feasibility of building privately-funded transportation systems and facilities through innovative agreements with the private sector by developing projects, and the Secretary should be granted authority to entertain, solicit, evaluate, negotiate and administer such agreements.
(f) The Department is encouraged and authorized to take full advantage of every financing opportunity and mechanism provided by federal legislation, including transportation legislation facilitating federal financing or grants for construction, improvement, leasing, operation or related functions as to roads, bridges, tunnels or other transportation systems.
(g) A Public-Private Initiatives Program Revolving Loan Fund, which would allow available federal and State funds to be leveraged, should be established to provide a source of public funds for partial financing of projects.
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