Abertis USA head named PPP ‘entrepreneur of the year’

Jordi Graells was honoured for his PR-22 toll road deal. The US head is also set to become president of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association in 2012.

Abertis toll road expert Jordi Graells, the head of the toll road operator’s US business, has received an award from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARBTA).

ARBTA gave Graells, 57, its “Private Sector Entrepreneur of the Year” prize Tuesday, citing his work in winning the high-profile public-private partnership (PPP) to manage PR-22, or the Jose de Diego Motorway, the busiest toll road in Puerto Rico. The PR-22 was the US territory’s first toll road PPP.

In June Abertis, a member of Autopistas Metropolitanas de Puerto Rico (Metropolitanas), a consortium also including Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners, made good on its $1.4 billion bid for a 40-year concession to operate the PR-22, an 83-kilometre road in San Juan.

The project, procured by the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority (PPPA), was the largest US transportation PPP of 2011 so far, and was hailed as a deal that “will serve as a catalyst for expansion in the US PPP market”.

Graells is an engineer who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In November, he relocated from his homeland, Spain, to Washington, D.C. That month, he was named president of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association for 2012.