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- October 2012: Volume 5, Number 9

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The Evolution of Private Participation in Infrastructure: Chicago

by Andrew Lin

Since the 1990s, the private sector has taken an increasing role in developing infrastructure that was previously the sole responsibility of governments. The trend started with schools, hospitals and government buildings in Australia and gradually caught on in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Canada and the rest of the world, including the United States. As the P3 trend grew, so did the types of arrangements. The private sector not only took on development and construction risk, but also financing, operations and long-term maintenance risks. The arrangements grew from simple straight leases to full design-build-finance-manage concession agreements.

But passing on those risks came with increasing costs for the public-sector sponsors. The argument always has been that the private partners’ more expensive cost of debt and equity capital to finance the infrastructure asset would be more than made up for by more-efficient construction pricing, operational cost and

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