Saturday, August 1, 2015

PA Turnpike: Some highways ought to be private

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission continues to resist giving control of its existing toll roads to private investors, but it's willing to contract out new ones, as it confirmed earlier this month when it listed bids for "financing, designing, constructing, operating and/or maintaining" 50 miles of new toll road around Pittsburgh.

PA Turnpike: Some highways ought to be private


The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission continues to resist giving control of its existing toll roads to private investors (including Gov. Rendell's 2008 choice of Citigroup and Spanish toll-road giant Abertis) -- but it's willing to contract out new ones, as it confirmed earlier this month when it listed bids for "financing, designing, constructing, operating and/or maintaining" 50 miles of new toll road around Pittsburgh. Statement here.

-- Why this contradiction? "The Commission believes the best value for public-private projects is for new construction," not existing roads like the ones it already runs, spokesman Carl DeFebo told me.
-- Will the Commission really yield operating control to a private operator? That still has to be worked out, he said.
-- Who wants the job? Three competing teams: "One response came from a team of familiar regional companies, and the others were from two of the top transportation developers in the world."
-- Is it really possible the Commission would pass over a group of PA companies and veteran contractors to bring in some outfit from Spain? "The next step is to analyze the documents provided by responding consortiums."

  1) MVP3, the Mon Valley Public-Private Partners, includes some familiar PA and past Turnpike contractors: design firms HDR Inc., Kimball Corp., Gannett Fleming Inc. of Harrisburg, and Figg Engineering Group; construction contractor Walsh Group; financier PNC Capital Markets, part of the state's biggest bank; traffic and revenue consultants Wilbur Smith Associates; and operations-maintenance contractorTransfield Services North America.
  2) Global Via (Spain) for construction and equity investment; and design/technical/construction contractor URS Corp. (Houston, Miami, NYC)  
  3) ACS Infrastructure (Spain) for construction, equity investment; and contractor Dragados USA (Florida)

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PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at,, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

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