Ohio River Bridges Project fully in flux

Kentucky, which has opted for a traditional design-build model for its approach to constructing a bridge to Indiana, has compiled a bidder shortlist. But Indiana, looking for a toll road concession, is awaiting responses for a RFQ.

The two-pronged procurement process for the Ohio River Bridges Project picked up momentum when on Tuesday the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) published its bidder shortlist.

The $2.6 billion joint-project between Kentucky and Indiana, being carried out under the aegis of the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority, has prompted Kentucky to pursue a traditional design-build approach while Indiana, led by the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA), has decided to use a public-private partnership (PPP) and enter into a toll road concession.

Each state is responsible for contributing $1.3 billion apiece to the project – a bridge linking Louisville, Kentucky, with Southern Indiana and requiring a reconstruction of the Kennedy Interchange, commonly called “Spaghetti Junction,” in Louisville. Construction work is expected to begin in 2014 and be completed in 2018.

The KYTC shortlist, following a request for qualifications (RFQ) issued in February, includes:

-Cross River Constructors, a consortium of Aliso Viejo, California-based Flour Corporation business unit Fluor Enterprises, ACCIONA Infraestructuras of Spain, and Connecticut-based Lane Construction;

-Kentucky Indiana Bridge Partners teaming Bechtel Group-owned Bechtel infrastructure Corporation, and California-headquartered Tutor Perini Corporation;

-Ohio River Transportation Constructors, with Kiewit Corporation-owned Kiewit Infrastructure Company, Traylor Brothers, Kokosing Construction Company, and Massman Construction Company;

-A consortium teaming Skanska, Flatiron Construction Corporation and Dragados USA;

-Walsh Construction Company from Chicago;

The transportation cabinet is planning to whittle down the shortlist by mid-April, according to the KYTC.

Meanwhile, in Indiana, the IFA is awaiting feedback from a RFQ issued Friday, March 9 and due in mid-April. After completing its RFQ process, the IFA is intending to move ahead with a request for proposals (RFP) campaign in May, with a view to selecting a consortium by year-end.

The subsequent PPP will use an availability payment structure, a rare deal structure in the US in which the private partner is paid periodically for keeping the infrastructure asset, in this case a bride, available in good condition.

The recent $715 million Knik Arm Crossing project in Anchorage, Alaska, and the $1.4 billion Presidio Parkway deal in San Francisco, both relied on an availability payment structure.

As a US infrastructure-related development, the Ohio River Bridges Project has been billed as a “mega-project” that has been closely watched as well as hotly debated. The cost of the project was first estimated around $4.1 billion, but the quote was later scaled down to $2.9 billion before being adjusted to its current $2.6 billion price tag.

The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority is a 14-member government agency dating back to 2009. KPMG is the strategic adviser to the authority.