PennDOT open for unsolicited P3 bids


The private sector has until the end of April to submit unsolicited proposals for transportation projects to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

PennDOT’s Office of Public-Private Partnerships, one of the country’s most active P3 state DOT agencies, accepts unsolicited P3 bids twice a year, in April and October.

Interested companies can submit proposals “offering innovative ways to deliver transportation projects across a variety of modes including roads, bridges, rail, aviation and ports,” said a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation release announcing the open solicitation period. Proposals can also include “more efficient models to manage existing transportation-related services and programs.”

Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh, a 50-year-old span that’s considered a major artery for the city, collapsed in January 2022. The commonwealth has since replaced the span. The repair or replacement of Pennsylvania’s bridges is a big focus of the state’s P3 program.

Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety

The submission period applies to PennDOT-owned infrastructure, assets and services, although private entities can also submit proposals for non-PennDOT-owned assets — such as transit assets — directly to the seven-member P3 board that reviews and approves potential public-private transportation projects during the month.

Proposals are reviewed by PennDOT’s P3 office and then submitted to the seven-member board.

Last fall’s open period saw three proposals, including one for the progressive delivery of all or a portion of the I-83 Capital Beltway program under two or more design-build-finance contracts, according to a November 2023 board meeting presentation.

PennDOT has four active P3 programs, including its $2.5 billion Major Bridges program, which replaces or rehabs major interstate bridges. The commonwealth came to market in December 2022 with $1.7 billion of private activity bonds for the program, a deal that represented the largest single offering of tax-exempt PABs for a surface transportation project. The six bridges are expected to be under construction by this summer.

The department also operates the $889 million Rapid Bridge Replacement project, which will replace 558 structurally deficient bridges around the commonwealth. The rapid bridge program is the first in the country to bundle the replacement of hundreds of bridges in a P3, according to PennDOT.

Lawmakers in July 2022 revamped the P3 law to strip PennDOT of its ability to impose tolls to pay for the Major Bridge program and reduced the department’s ability to impose user fees on other new infrastructure projects. The overhaul came in the wake of a court decision that struck down the bridge program. In August 2022, PennDOT chose to move the bridge projects in the program forward without tolling and pay for the projects with existing funds to make annual payments to the private partner, led by Macquarie, over a 35-year period. 

The state’s P3 law was enacted in 2012.

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