It's greenfields over brownfields as the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission last week announced that it would evaluate bringing in a private company to finance, build, and operate 50-miles of new toll roads south of Pittsburgh.

At the same time, the authority maintains its opposition to the state leasing out the 530-mile Turnpike for $12.8 billion to Citi and Abertis Infraestructuras in a 75-year agreement. Yet PTC officials say public-private partnerships on new infrastructure developments, or greenfields, are more cost-effective than long-term lease transactions on pre-existing structures, called brownfields.

"We've long recognized the need for private-sector involvement in transportation funding," PTC chief executive officer Joe Brimmeier said in a press release. "We believe the best use for a P3 is as initially intended - to help build new facilities, so-called greenfield projects. However, we still assert that P3s relating to brownfield projects - or existing infrastructure - offer less opportunity for the private sector to add value."

The PTC on Sept. 17 will hold an informational meeting for companies interested in financing the design, construction, and operation on the three remaining sections of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and the Southern Beltway, just south of Pittsburgh. The overall 50-mile project will connect the two toll roads together and create greater traffic capacity south of the city.

Interested parties can pre-register for the event by Sept. 12 on the PTC Web site at www.paturnpike.com. The meeting will address further details about the potential P3 development, including when the authority may release a request for qualifications on the project, according to Carl DeFebo, spokesman for the PTC.

In March, the authority's board authorized the PTC to advertise its interest in P3 projects on the Mon-Fayette Expressway and the Southern Beltway. In addition, officials at that time pegged the cost of constructing the 50 miles of new tollroad at $5.2 billion.

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