Bidding begins on Puerto Rico toll roads

The Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority has released a request for qualifications for bidders on its PR 22 and the PR 5 toll roads, with responses due 29 July. The request marks the beginning of the first PPP procurement process in the history of the US territory’s now one-year old PPP programme.

A year and one week after Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño signed legislation allowing the US territory to pursue public-private partnerships, Puerto Rico has begun qualifying bidders for its first PPP.

The Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority has posted on its website a request for qualifications for the first phase of its ambitious effort to modernise and expand its toll road network.

Over the last six months, the Authority had been preparing for this moment by selecting financial advisors, drafting a feasibility study and putting together a selection committee for the bidding.

“We are ready to roll,” David Alvarez, executive director of the Authority, said in an interview.

The request for qualifications (RFQ) covers two toll roads, the PR 22 and the PR 5, that will form the first phase of Puerto Rico’s bidding process for long-term leases on its existing, or brownfield roads. A 50-year lease is being sought for each road, according to the RFQ.

Alvarez said the roads present “plenty of opportunity for electronic tolling” as one potential source of value in pricing the revenues from the roads.

The 52-mile long PR 22 serves as the main highway to the Western part of Puerto Rico. In 2009, it generated $85 million of revenue, according to the RFQ. The PR 5 is a short, 4-mile long road that connects to the PR 22, has one toll plaza and collected $4.2 million of revenue in 2009, according to the RFQ.

Responses to the RFQ are due 29 July.

A separate RFQ has also been posted on the Authority’s website for a PPP to improve Puerto Rico’s water metering system by introducing new technologies that will result in less water going unbilled by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority.

Speaking at the Infrastructure Investor: Southeast forum in Miami earlier this month, Alverez said water metering was a big issue for Puerto Rico because 63 percent of the water goes unbilled.

Responses to the water metering PPP are due 30 July.

In related news, Puerto Rico is close to naming its legal advisor for its toll road PPPs. A preliminary selection has been made, Alvarez said, and an announcement about the winning legal advisor will be made soon.