CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A reworked bill that would extend support for public-private highway projects was approved Tuesday by the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

There are five ongoing public-private partnership projects and the bill (SB 15) extends a “sunset” provision that would have eliminated the option used by the state Division of Highways at the end of the fiscal year.

Instead, according to the bill, the sunset provision would be extended to June 30, 2020. As part of the extension, use of federal highway funds would be capped at 35 percent of a particular project.

“I think the way you have it now is you still keep preservation of your existing system, allow for expansion of your new, and if we do get additional revenue coming, in the opportunity to come back and see what needs to be changed or modified to capitalize on any future opportunities,” Mike Clowser, Executive Director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, testified Tuesday.

Clowser also testified that the state’s current and future public-private infrastructure projects would benefit from a new federal stimulus.

“We hope there is a federal stimulus bill,” he said. “We hope there is a state bonding bill.”

Clowser’s support for the bill comes courtesy of the federal funds cap compromise, which will allow the state to explore a more diverse array of potential infrastructure projects.

“Our issue has always been how do you expand and build new while we still have preservation issues,” he said.

A subcommittee recommended the bill pass in the full committee before being eventually sent to the Senate Finance Committee.

“I think the chairman made it very clear that this bill will have every opportunity to come back before you for amendments or revise if indeed those activities do occur,” Clowser said. “We hope it occurs.”

Current PPP projects include the Coalfields Expressway and Corridor H.

This is the second extension of the sunset provision since the original legislation was implemented in 2008.

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