RFP out for $2.3bn 'West By Northwest’ highway

Three consortia including Vinci, OHL, Cintra, Meridiam and ACS have been invited to bid for the estimated multibillion dollar ‘historic’ highway project, touted as a Peach State milestone.

A final request for proposals (RFP) for a vaunted public-private partnership (PPP) that would create an expanded highway lane system throughout Atlanta has been issued.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) on Monday announced a shortlist to vie for the $2.3 billion ‘West By Northwest' (WxNW) project.

The GDOT website said West By Northwest Development Partners (Vinci/OHL), Georgia Mobility Partners (Cintra/Meridiam/Grupo Soares da Costa) and Northwest Atlanta Development Group (ACS) qualified for the RFP.

Each team responded to a request for qualifications (RFQ) that the department sent out in February 2010. The deadline for the RFP is February 2012, GDOT said.

Georgia Department of Transportation P3 director Gerald Ross hailed the West By Northwest PPP as part of a “very new” business model for Georgia.

“First, we are utilising a public-private partnership that will allow us to deliver a project our state is not able to deliver on its own,” said Ross, who went on to praise West By Northwest as “an entirely new solution, one that will improve mobility and offer more reliable trip time in this vital commuter corridor”.

WxNW would include an 18-mile lane addition along Interstate 75 and an approximately 11-mile addition along Interstate 575.

The project is moving forward despite the departure of an erstwhile top GDOT official who is often credited with installing an ambitious P3 program for Georgia.

Vance Smith, who as GDOT commissioner ushered in a spate of statewide privatisation including West By Northwest, was allegedly forced to resign amid discord within the department.

Smith, a former state representative, had been an ardent proponent of privatisation. Keith Golden, a GDOT veteran, was named interim commissioner.

West By Northwest, with its estimated cost of $2.3 billion, has been cited for its potential to make Georgia a flagship PPP state, along with Texas and Ohio. Georgia also has a current PPP for a multi-modal passenger terminal (MMPT).