RFQ for Georgia PPP out

The Peach State has published a RFQ for the Northwest Corridor Project, a managed-lanes public-private partnership in Atlanta. The mandate is a revamped heir to the defunct West by Northwest project, which was cancelled in 2011.

Bidding for the Northwest Corridor Project – a scaled-down offshoot of the recently cancelled 'West by Northwest' project – opened Friday with a request for qualifications (RFQ) issued by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).

The department said the RFQ centred on “designing, building and (partially) financing” the public-private partnership (PPP), a 30-mile managed-lanes project along Interstate 75 (I-75) as well as Interstate 575 (I-575) in Atlanta.

The RFQ has a Thursday, July 19 deadline, according to GDOT, which specified the mandate required “information related to [the] ability to finance between 10 percent and 20 percent of the estimated design-build cost of $750 million to $850 million”.

GDOT is expecting “to develop a ‘shortlist’” by December and subsequently publish a request for proposals (RFP), the department said. RFPs will be due in June 2013, while construction is slated to begin in 2014, GDOT said.

The project, unveiled in May, partly reinitiated the West by Northwest (WxNW) undertaking buried by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in December. Deal in nixing WxNW, which was then in the RFP phase of its procurement process, railed against mortgaging “sovereignty”.

WxNW had been hailed as a flagship transportation PPP for Georgia and had been installed in 2009 under onetime GDOT commissioner Vance Smith on the back of a statewide push toward privatisation. But Smith was forced to resign amid criticism of his handling of GDOT, while Deal cancelled WxNW as well as other planned PPPs when he became governor last year.

The department has admitted the Northwest Corridor Project is a less ambitious version of WxNW. 

For one, the Northwest Corridor Project will forgo a reworking of the Interstate 285 interchange adjacent to I-575. Also unlike WxNW, the Northwest Corridor Project would not include a multiyear concession agreement, and Georgia would control tolling as well as maintenance.