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Transportation Funding & Financing

Shared Resources

Overview

Shared resources are private donations of telecommunications technology (principally fiber optic communications), and sometimes cash, granted in exchange for access to public rights-of-way. The use of shared resources is an invaluable tool for states seeking to build a technological backbone for ITS. In addition to obtaining increased access to telecommunications technology, states can credit the value of the private donations toward their matching share of project costs associated with the deployment of ITS projects utilizing the donated technologies.

Shared resource agreements are attractive because they represent a new revenue source-one that has been exploited by some toll agencies. For example, the New York State Thruway Authority entered into an agreement that provided for the design, construction, maintenance, operation, and marketing of a six-duct fiber optics infrastructure along its right-of-way. The authority received its own dedicated fiber optics network at no cost and was, thereby, able to avoid significant telecommunications costs in the future. In addition, the Authority may share in the revenues generated from the sublease of the ducts and fibers that it does not use. Another shared resource mechanism used by the Authority is generating revenue by granting site access to wireless companies. These companies pay monthly permit fees for site occupancy of antennas on existing authority-owned towers, buildings, sign posts, bridges, and undeveloped right-of-way.

The benefits of shared resource agreements to both the public and private sectors are significant. For the private sector, access to public rights-of-way means that necessary communications networks and other related infrastructure can be constructed less expensively. Some capacity is provided to the public sector in exchange for this access, while the remaining capacity is used to provide communication services or is leased or sold to others.

For the public sector, the most obvious benefit is the provision of telecommunications infrastructure. But there are other benefits as well. Under the flexible match provision of the 1995 NHS Act, third party donations of funds, materials, or assets may be applied to a state's matching share for Federal-aid projects. In the case of shared resource projects, a state can receive credit towards its matching share for a transportation project that requires the use of the shared resource.

Resources

The following sites present information on the sharing of roadway right-of-way to accommodate public utilities.

Utilities Program - FHWA Office of Program Administration
Utility Rights-of-Way - FHWA Office of Planning, Environment and Realty

Fiber Optics: Installation on Freeways - Research and Innovative Technology Administration (USDOT)
This site presents FHWA background and guidance on shared resources.