"Basically this is a marriage," Norment said.
Sometimes governments have skills businesses do not, and vice versa. For instance, governments can use imminent domain laws to obtain property that would be difficult for private businesses to acquire.
The private sector, meanwhile, might have more experience with environmental regulations of large construction projects.
Norment said private companies' biggest contributions often are their technical skills and design experience to come up with more cost-effective ways to solve problems.
As part of these agreements, companies often promise to maintain the road or building for as long as the contract. Norment said companies are forced to do a better job because their payment depends on it.
In addition to construction responsibilities, public-private partnerships also allow governments and businesses to share profits.
This can be accomplished in several ways. States could set up a user fee, such as a toll on a road, and then give the business a cut of that money over the next 20 or 30 years. Alternatively, the government could just agree to make regular payments to the company.
States also can use a "concession agreement," where a company pays the government to operate and maintain a facility. This lowers the costs for states and allows businesses to make money off the projects.
Either way, the state gets high-dollar developments without providing all the money up front.
Last month, Putnam County Commissioner Andy Skidmore announced work to complete U.S. 35 in Mason and Putnam counties could begin as soon as April if the state set up a public-private partnership.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin cautioned Skidmore's comments may be "premature," but many projects in West Virginia have already been completed using public-private partnerships.
The $50 million Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park in Lewis County was built as a public-private partnership between the state, the resort management company Benchmark Hospitality and McCabe-Henley-Durbin, project developer.
Marshall University partnered with a private firm to finance and develop $83 million worth of campus facilities including its new health and wellness center. The company was reimbursed through user fees charged to students.
In 2008, the Legislature passed the "Public-Private Partnership Act," allowing the state Division of Highways to collaborate with private companies to build new roads.
But as Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin noted in last year's State of the State address, that bill required the division to receive legislative approval before forming one of these partnerships, limiting the legislation's usefulness.
In the 2013 regular session, the Legislature passed another bill allowing the agency more flexibility in forming public-private partnerships.
Brent Walker, spokesman for the state Division of Highways, said West Virginia has not formed any public-private partnership since the legislation passed but is building a list of potential projects.
He said before the legislation passed, the agency had to wait for contractors to approach the state to set up a partnership. Now, the state can solicit business partners.
Walker said the list of potential projects could include U.S. 35; the Corridor H highway that would run through central West Virginia; W.Va. 10, a four-lane highway from Man to Logan; the "King Coal Highway," which would expand the current U.S. 52 through several southern counties; and the "Coalfields Expressway," a proposed 60-mile, four-lane highway running from Raleigh County to Wise County, Va.
"Heretofore, you've seen us build projects at four-, five- or six-mile stretches. This kind of delivery method would allow us to build them faster," Walker said.