Kentucky budget vote today crucial for bridge project

Kentucky had to postpone picking a design-build team for its part of the Ohio River Bridges Project after the state legislature adjourned without approving a transportation budget. A special session tried to provide closure, and a $4.5bn plan is set for a House vote today.

Kentucky seemed resigned to waiting until October to pick a design-build team to develop and construct its portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project when the state legislature last week adjourned without passing a two-year transportation budget.

But Monday a special session of its general assembly – costing Kentucky $60,000 a day – convened to draw up a $4.5 billion transportation budget, set for House vote today, Wednesday, April 18.

Governor Steve Beshear ordered the special session, calling the project “ready to move forward with the procurement process,” and stressing that “without legislative approval […] this project is on hold”.

A resolved transportation budget would enable the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), which opted for a traditional design-build approach in contrast to cross-state partner the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA), to whittle its five team shortlist to three. KYTC is expecting to narrow its shortlist by Monday, April 23.

On Monday IFA, meanwhile, tallied six consortia in response to its RFQ in search of a private partner for its portion of the project. Indiana has opted for a toll road concession using the availability payment structure. The authority is planning to publish a request for proposals (RFP) in May.

Both Kentucky and Indiana are responsible for contributing $1.3 billion apiece to the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, a bridge linking Louisville, Kentucky, with Southern Indiana and requiring a reconstruction of the Kentucky Interchange, commonly called ‘Spaghetti  Junction’ in Louisville.

Construction is expected to begin in 2014, with 2018 the tentative completion date. Kentucky and Indiana initiated the project in 2009 as the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority.