PennDOT accepting unsolicited P3 bids

The call for unsolicited proposals, which closes on April 30, is meant to encourage private companies to present the agency with innovative ways to deliver transportation projects.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) yesterday announced that it is accepting unsolicited proposals for transportation projects from the private sector. 

During the open submission period, private sector companies have the opportunity to propose projects involving PennDOT-owned transportation infrastructure assets. The call for unsolicited proposals is meant to encourage private companies to present the agency with innovative ways to deliver transportation projects involving roads, bridges, rail, aviation and ports. The agency is also encouraging submission of proposals that provide a means to institute more efficient models for managing existing transportation-related services and programs, PennDOT said in a statement.

To date, PennDOT has hosted five open submission periods on a biannual basis, and has received a total of seven unsolicited proposals. Of those, two have been approved, three are under development, and two have been deferred pending further details or research to demonstrate feasibility. 

The two approved projects include the Wireless Telecom Partnership, which pairs wireless telecom infrastructure with existing PennDOT assets, and the Truck Permitting/Routing System, which entails the development of a new Automated Permit Routing Analysis System (APRAS). Both approved projects were submitted in September 2013.

Projects under evaluation include the development of the Capital Area Transit Bus Maintenance Facility and Wireless Waterways project, and an LED Retrofit project. For the latter, PennDOT is working with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the State Transportation Innovation Council to test and evaluate the use of LED lighting on Pennsylvania's roadways, according to PennDOT's latest annual report.

As part of the public-private partnership (PPP; P3) law (Act 88 of 2012) in Pennsylvania, a seven-member Public Private Transportation Partnership Board was appointed to examine and approve potential P3 transportation projects, the release said. The board's role is to determine whether projects can be more cost-effectively administered by a private partner; if the body finds that it is indeed the case, the private entity is then authorised to submit a proposal and enter into a contract “to either completely or partially take over that operation for a defined period”.

Members of the board include Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards, Acting Budget Secretary Randy Albright, a Governor's appointee (this seat is currently vacant), and four legislative appointees – one from each caucus. At this time, appointees include former Gannett Fleming board chairman and chief executive Ronald Drvenich, regional president of M&T Bank Michael Murchie, Laborer's District Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity business manager Ryan Boyer. State Representative Steve Santarsiero also sits on the board.

The current open submission period will close on April 30 at midnight. The next unsolicited proposal opportunity will open in October.