Procurement doubts scupper Ohio Bridge meeting

A bi-state agency set up to explore a possible $2.9bn PPP for a bridge linking Indiana and Kentucky is holding off on making its next move until it reaches agreement on a delivery method for the project.

A need for good old-fashioned consensus building has stalled an important meeting about the multi-billion dollar Ohio River Bridges project.

The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority, a cross-state partnership established to manage the project, said dialogue between the authority, Indiana and Kentucky is ongoing, prompting cancellation. The authority announced its decision on its website, but has yet to reschedule the meeting. 

A spokeswoman for the authority told Infrastructure Investor the holdup centred on project delivery method. “[Each state] wanted to complete [discussing] this process before moving forward,” the spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail.

The announcement stressed the need to clear up its discussion before making a “formal recommendation on the delivery model.” A delivery method is a system used to design, build, finance, operate and manage an infrastructure project.

For the Ohio River Bridges project, the authority has considered a design-build delivery method as well as a toll road concession. In addition, the authority has mulled using an availability payment structure, in which the private partner would be paid by the public entity in exchange for keeping the asset in good condition.

In its statement, the authority termed its interaction with each state as “productive.”

The authority in September published a request for information (RFI) for the project that was due on September 30. The spokeswoman stressed the decision to cancel the meeting was “not at all related to the RFI”. Meanwhile, a procurement process is slated for the fourth quarter.

The Ohio River Bridges project would require the construction of a bridge between Louisville, Kentucky and Southern Indiana, as well as a reconfiguration of the Kennedy Interchange in Louisville.

No firm cost figure for the Ohio River Bridges project has been established, but a recent estimate priced it at $2.9 billion.