Florida may re-bid Port of Miami Tunnel

The state’s secretary of transportation ruled out the option of moving forward with a different equity sponsor for the winning bidders or negotiating with the runners-up for the $1bn tunnel, leaving the solicitation of new bids as the only option to move the stalled project forward.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) may restart the procurement process on a stalled $1 billion tunnel project in the state’s second largest city.

Port of Miami: in need
of a tunnel

FDOT head Stephanie Kopelousos argues in a memo to the state’s congressional leaders that reprocuring the project is the best option for moving the project forward. Last December, the state refused to close on the deal  after Babcock & Brown, the equity sponsor for the winning consortium, proposed swapping its interest with Paris-based Meridiam Infrastructure Fund.

Kopelousos presented Congressional leaders with two other options: evaluating the proposed substitution of Meridiam as equity sponsor for the project or re-opening negotiations with the number-two ranked bidder for the project, a consortium led by Spanish infrastructure developer ACS.

She dismissed the substitution option because costs and financial markets have changed “to a point that there may be other entities willing to embark on this project”.  She also expressed concern the consortium would not have met the minimum qualifications to bid if Meridiam had been included as the original equity sponsor.

She dismissed the option of negotiating with ACS because its consortium failed to provide documentation that it would honor its proposal beyond the time frame of the original procurement schedule.

“This agency has seen an unprecedented number of bidders on its projects, and significant cost savings on its bids that has helped us keep some projects in the work program even when funds have been reduced based on decreased revenue estimates. It therefore appears to us that the best overall solution is to re-procure this project,” Kopelousos concludes.

Kopelousos expects to layout the procurement schedule and overall funding strategies for the project by no later than 1 July 2009, according to the memo.