In the first significant public private partnership (“P3”) infrastructure project in Pennsylvania, PennDOT recently selected Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners (“Plenary Walsh”) for award of the Rapid Bridge Replacement program. Under the P3 agreement, Plenary Walsh is required to demolish 558 bridges in various states of disrepair throughout Pennsylvania and to construct new bridges in their place within three years of work commencement in the summer of 2015. According to PennDOT, this P3 procurement will result in both cost and time savings. PennDOT states that it would have taken it eight to twelve years to complete the replacement bridge work under conventional procedures. PennDOT estimated that the cost of the work using traditional means would have been over $2 million per bridge, whereas the cost through this P3 agreement is approximately $1.6 million per bridge.
PennDOT’s Rationale for Selecting Plenary Walsh
Plenary Walsh narrowly edged-out competitor Keystone Bridge Partners (“Keystone”), scoring 95.14 on PennDOT’s grading scale, as compared to Keystone’s grade of 94.77. The Plenary Walsh consortium includes Plenary Group, The Walsh Group, Granite Construction Co., and HDR Engineering. Keystone includes Kiewit, Parsons, and DBi. PennDOT stated that it selected Plenary Walsh over Keystone because of Plenary Walsh’s commitment to complete the 558 bridges eight months earlier than required, its $899 million price, and other key elements of its proposal, such as the traffic management plan and quality control plan. PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said that the goal for the project was not only finding cost savings, but also minimizing impact to the traveling public, which was reflected in the traffic management plan and the plan to complete eight months early in Plenary Walsh’s proposal. According to PennDOT’s press release, PennDOT also considered the financial capability to carry out the project, the background and experience in managing comparable projects, and the understanding of the project in selecting Plenary Walsh.
What Does This Mean for Those Seeking Award of Future Rapid Bridge Replacement P3s?
The takeaways for consortiums on future bridge replacement projects are that price, cost savings, experience, and financial capability remain fundamental considerations. Should these considerations be nearly equal between competing consortiums, the winning proposal is likely to be the one that demonstrates early completion of the project and a careful traffic management plan calculated to minimize the impact to the traveling public.
Tony Byler is a Partner at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC and a member of the Construction Group. As a trial lawyer, he focuses his practice on representing public and private owners, contractors, subcontractors and material men.
Jason C. Tomasulo is Senior Counsel at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. He focuses his practice on construction law and represents owners, general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and sureties.