RFI released for $3bn Ohio River Bridges project

The bi-state authority charged with building a bridge to connect Kentucky and southern Indiana has issued a request for information from potential private partners.

The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority has issued a request for information (RFI) for a project to construct two new interstate bridges.

The potential public private partnership (PPP), which is known as the Ohio River Bridges project, was originally estimated to cost about $4.1 billion. In addition to the construction of the new bridges, the project also includes reconfiguring the Kennedy Interchange in Louisville, Kentucky.

More recent estimates have put the project cost at about $2.9 billion, largely because the Bridges Authority has decided to reconstruct the Kennedy Interchange in its current location, rather than moving it as the original designs suggested.

The Bridges Authority is considering a variety of financing options for the potential PPP, according to the RFI. Those options include design-build or toll revenue concession models, as well as an availability payment structure, in which the private partner would be given payments in exchange for making the asset available in good condition.

Federal and state funds of about $1.9 billion could be available for the project, according to 2010 estimates.

Participants at a February industry forum for the project included representatives from  US private equity firm Carlyle Group, Macquarie Capital, ACS Infrastructure, Natixis, Swedish infrastructure developer Skanska, UK developer Balfour Beatty, and infrastructure fund manager Meridiam, according to a list of registrants posted on the Bridges Authority website.

Responses to the RFI are due September 30.  The Bridges Authority is expected to decide on a financing model at its October meeting, according to spokesperson Christi Robinson, and the procurement process for the project is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of this year.

Robinson said legislative changes may be required in Kentucky in order to implement the project, depending on which financing model the Bridges Authority ultimately selects.

Consultancy KPMG is acting as a strategic advisor to the Bridges Authority. The 14-member Bridges Authority was formed in 2010 for the purpose of financing, building and operating the Ohio River Bridges project, according to the RFI.