Rapid Bridge Replacement to break ground this month

Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners is set to replace 558 bridges across Pennsylvania within 36 months, a contract valued at $899m.

After years of planning and contract negotiations, Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation (PennDOT) yesterday announced that construction on the Rapid Bridge Replacement project will begin this month, stating in a press release that 58 bridges in the southwestern, north central, and northeast regions of the state will be replaced under the auspices of the scheme before year's end.  

PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards made the announcement from Cressona, Pennsylvania, where parts for the new bridges will be fabricated.

“Part of the responsibility of a government that works is keeping people moving safely, but also efficiently,” Richards said. “This project will deliver high-quality bridges with as little disruption to the public as possible, now and for decades in the future.” 

The project, which takes advantage of public-private partnership (PPP; P3) legislation passed in 2012 to help address the state's 4,500 structurally deficient bridges, was awarded to Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners (PWKP), a consortium comprised of Plenary Group, The Walsh Group, Granite Construction Company, and HDR Engineering. 

In total, 558 bridges are set to be replaced through the project within 36 months. By packaging replacement of these bridges into a single P3 procurement rather than utilising the state's standard procurement process for each replacement, the state is saving roughly $400,000 per bridge – an estimated total savings of $223.2 million.

The Rapid Bridge Replacement design-build-finance-maintain (DBFM) contract is valued at $899 million, and PWKP will be compensated for their investment through incentivised performance-based payments. PennDOT will maintain ownership of the bridges, and will be responsible for routine maintenance including snow plowing and debris removal, it said in the statement.

Throughout the construction period, the consortium is set to announce bidding opportunities both through its website – PARapidBridges.com – and through outreach events aimed at the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) community.

In their proposal, PWKP identified 11 state-based subcontractors they plan to utilise during the construction period. These comprise AD Marble, MA Beech, Carmen Paliotta Contracting, Clearwater Construction, Francis Palo, Glenn O Hawbaker, JD Eckman, JF Shea Construction, Larson Design Group, Swank Construction and TRC Engineers. 

As construction begins, PWKC will provide regular status updates through the project website and announce public meetings during which individual bridge plans will be detailed.

The next such meeting is set to be held on June 9 from 5pm to 7pm at the Dushore Fire Hall in Dushore, Pennsylvania, to discuss replacement of two bridges in Sullivan County, one of which the consortium promises to complete this year.