Dear KTFC member or friend:

Last week, the House Transportation Committee held a hearing on PennDOT’s proposed public-private bridge initiative, which would provide for repair or replacement of as many as nine major bridges across the Commonwealth. To pay for this work – anticipated to cost around $2.2 billion – the concessionaire would impose and collect tolls on the bridges, which include the I-83 bridge between Cumberland and Dauphin counties.

APC’s Bob Latham and APC member George Mezey of Trumbull Corp. presented the construction industry’s concerns about the initiative. The industry’s primary concern is that virtually all of the financial risk would fall on the Motor License Fund and, by extension, PennDOT’s entire capital program.

PennDOT has short-listed three concessionaires for these projects. The winning concessionaire will finance the work, design and manage the repair and/or replacement of the bridges in exchange for “availability payments” over 25 or 30 years.

As stated in PennDOT’s request for qualifications, issued in June, the toll revenue to be collected from the bridges would be the primary source of these availability payments. However, if the toll revenue isn’t enough to cover these guaranteed payments, the balance would be taken from the Motor License Fund, which pays for PennDOT’s other construction projects.

While appreciative of PennDOT’s effort to generate revenue for improving highways and bridges, the industry contends that there are ways to address these needs that would cost less and not put the Motor License Fund at risk.

PennDOT plans to issue a request for proposals by the end of the year and select the concessionaire in February.

Be of Good Cheer,

— The Wolff