The Intermountain Infrastructure Exchange (IMX) held its second Advisory Board meeting in Salt Lake City in April to consider a charter and strategic plan to establish IMX to meet critical infrastructure needs in the Intermountain region and identify opportunities for accelerating projects in Colorado, Utah and Arizona.
According to Don Hunt, IMX Advisory Board Convening Chair and Buechner Institute Senior Fellow, “IMX advisory board members generally view the role of IMX as a convener, educator and technical resource to accelerate projects in the region. The Utah meeting considered the mission, goals, and implementation of IMX, and how IMX can organize a pipeline of projects that will benefit from performance-based infrastructure best practices and experience. Advisory board members brought their own individual state experiences to the discussion of how we move forward.”
The IMX advisory board is working to identify a regional pipeline of needed projects that are not being addressed through traditional financing and performance-based approaches. Advisory board members highlighted needs, projects and approaches in their respective states. Over 30 public-private sector advisers attended the meeting to contribute their expertise, experiences and knowledge of opportunities and needs throughout the region.
Michael Parker, Salt Lake Chamber Director Public Policy, highlighted water supply issues and legislative progress on performance-based infrastructure in Utah and James Eklund, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, discussed the results of the recent Colorado Water Plan on finance, including public-private partnerships.
Floyd Roehrich, Arizona Department of Transportation Executive Officer, described the 22-mile long South Mountain Freeway ADOT Design Build Maintain project, observing that following the conclusion of the procurement effort, ADOT will realize an initial savings of $122 million. The savings allows the Maricopa Association of Governments to work with ADOT to reprogram the savings.
Simon Tafoya, State of Colorado Senior Director of Policy, discussed Colorado broadband where there is coordination at the state level. There are also ongoing efforts to assess challenges across the state, and a number of cities and counties the state have approved initiatives. Rio Blanco is a public-private partnership (P3) and Longmont has its own public network. Other broad band experience included:
- Kentucky Public Private Partnership: According to Mike Hayden, Kentucky Communication Network Authority Chief Operations Officer, Kentucky has recently implemented a successful, statewide P3 program to implement broadband. The state was able to draw together many regional/local networks and to provide a framework for linking all parts of the state.
- Utah Outreach Center: Kelleigh Cole, Utah Broadband Outreach Center Director, outlined Utah’s statewide broadband approach: a statewide broadband network with some recent success in bringing new providers into the state to successfully take over portions of the overall network. The Outreach Center is acting as a convener between service providers and communities to advance services.
- Utah DOT Fiber Network: Carlos Bracero, Executive Director, Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), described a game-changer in the success of installing broadband in the state. UDOT built empty conduit into highway right-of-ways starting during preparations for the Olympics. Since the mid-90s, every highway project builds fiber/conduit capacity that can be used as broadband expands throughout the state. UDOT has connected almost all traffic signals across the state on the optical fiber network – all on the same signal system (software, fiber, etc.). UDOT would be interested in leasing space on their network in a value-for-value exchange
The Buechner Institute for Governance is housing the IMX Exchange with a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation to bring together representatives of the governors of Colorado, Utah and Arizona to find new and innovative ways to deliver and finance infrastructure. The IMX Exchange will connect public and private entities to accelerate investment in needed projects.
~Post by Randy Harrison, Buechner Institute Senior Fellow