Commercial close for Pennsylvania bridge project

PennDOT, Plenary Walsh team sign contract for the $899m Rapid Bridge Replacement project, the state’s "most ambitious" P3 to date.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has finalised all terms regarding the Rapid Bridge Replacement project, which is being procured as a public-private partnership (PPP; P3) and will entail replacing 558 bridges across the state, clearing the way for the preferred bidder to begin construction this summer, the state agency said in a recent statement.

“We have a signed contract in hand, and the Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners team has already begun preparing for construction of these bridges,” PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said, referring to the consortium which will manage the bridges’ design, construction and maintenance for 25 years after construction is completed. PennDOT will retain ownership of the bridges.

PennDOT selected Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners, a consortium teaming Plenary Group with The Walsh Group as well as 11 Pennsylvania-based sub-contractors, in October 2014. According to the statement, the group will also be responsible for securing the capital necessary for construction, which must be completed within 36 months.

“This is an important milestone in the state’s most ambitious public-private partnership initiative to date,” Schoch said.

The project initially targeted the replacement of 200 to 300 bridges. However, in November 2013, Governor Corbett made an additional $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion available for bridge and road repairs and upgrades through a transportation funding bill he signed into law. As a result, the Rapid Bridge Replacement project was expanded to include more than 500 bridges.

In addition to being able to replace the bridges more quickly than under the agency’s traditional procurement model, delivering the project as a P3 will save an average $400,000 for the design, construction and maintenance of each bridge, according to Schoch.