US poised to be world's biggest public-private partnership market: Moody's

US President Barack Obama announcing a new national infrastructure initiative at the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, in front of the I-495 Bridge, which is undergoing substantial structural repairs on July 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
US President Barack Obama announcing a new national infrastructure initiative at the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, in front of the I-495 Bridge, which is undergoing substantial structural repairs on July 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

New York (Reuters) - The United States is poised to become the world's biggest marketplace for public-private partnerships as infrastructure needs soar while traditional funding for bridges, courthouses and other projects wears thin, Moody's Investors Service said on Monday.

The U.S. market is also less mature than most of the rest of the world. A number of large so-called P3 projects are in the pipeline now for U.S. transportation, and once those deals close a new wave of social infrastructure projects is expected, it said.

But a number of large so-called P3 projects are in the pipeline now for U.S. transportation, and once those deals close, a new wave of social infrastructure projects is expected, Moody's said.

Courthouses, such as the one in Long Beach, California, as well as school buildings could also lead a new wave of social infrastructure projects, followed by water and waste-water facilities, the credit ratings agency said.

Most public infrastructure in the United States has been built using low-interest, tax-exempt bonds. Since the recession, city and state governments have been wary of taking on more debt, and some cannot afford major transportation projects on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Some states have yet to legalise P3s. Virginia, Florida, Texas, Indiana and Colorado have been ahead of the pack in approving transportation P3s, Moody's said, but similar legislation has failed in New York and Kentucky.

he momentum has quickened in the last five years. A total of 39 U.S. states now have some kind of legalised P3, either for transportation or social infrastructure projects.