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ADOT Goes P3 for $1.8B Single Project South Mountain Freeway

By Eric Jay Toll for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Map credit: ADOT

Map credit: ADOT

Six weeks. That’s the timeline set by the Arizona Department of Transportation for interested public-private partners to submit a proposal to join with ADOT, Maricopa Association of Governments and the Federal Highway Administration to “get it done.”

ADOT announced July 30 that after a year of assessment, it’s going P3 and building the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway as a single project. The partners’ approach is slightly different than that proposed by South Mountain Development Group (SMDG) last year (AZBEX, Jul. 26, 2013).

Design-Build-Maintain

It’s another first—ADOT is looking for private partners to build the long-anticipated freeway connecting Interstate 10 in southwest Phoenix with I-10 and Loop 202 in Chandler. The $1.8B project will be a design-build-maintain delivery method.

Last July, SMDG—a joint venture of Kiewit Development Co., Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., Sundt Construction, Inc. and Parsons Corporation—proposed building the 23-mile segment of Loop 202 around South Mountain Preserve. The first-ever unsolicited proposal caught ADOT by surprise. SMDG proposed to design, build and finance the freeway.

ADOT exercised its option to take all or any portion of the proposal, and is not including the financing provision. Instead, the agency is seeking a proposal that has the private partner maintaining the roadway system after building it.

Open Bidding Process Begins

Deploying its standard procedures for unsolicited proposals, ADOT reviewed SMDG’s proposal in detail. ADOT has compiled what it likes from the P3 proposal, and is now opening the process to other bidders.

The department used a “value for money” approach, and the partner public agencies determined that the design-build-maintain approach returns the best value for Arizona taxpayers.

A Request for Qualifications inviting other firms or joint venture partners to be considered for the project is slated to go out as soon as the FEIS is certified in mid- to late-September.

The qualifications will be due six weeks after the RFQ hits the street. ADOT says it will take a month to review qualifications and a shortlist will be created for the P3 contract.

This review is totally separate from and unaffected by the federal Final Environmental Impact Statement review currently underway (AZBEX, Feb. 7). Unless the environmental review says the “no build” alternative is approved—ADOT has determined it will proceed with the P3 delivery.