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.

bridge maintenance workPennDOT’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.


By: Jason C. Tomasulo

Governor Corbett recently signed legislation to encourage the financing and investment by private industry aimed at addressing Pennsylvania’s aging infrastructure needs, lack of adequate funding, and anticipated growing funding gap. Pennsylvania has over 5,000 structurally deficient bridges (the most in the nation) and thousands of miles of roads in poor condition.

House Bill No. 3, as amended by the Senate, and signed by the Governor enables the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and local government entities to enter into public private partnerships (P3) for transportation projects, called “PPTPs” (public-private transportation partnerships). Some of the key aspects are as follows:

  • The law only applies to transportation projects, but all modes of transportation are considered for P3 projects. One exception is that the Turnpike Commission is prohibited from entering into a P3 agreement that would give “substantial oversight and control” over the mainline of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a developer without specific authority granted by the General Assembly;
  • The law creates a new Public-Private Transportation Board with authority to evaluate and approve or deny requests for P3 projects;
  • The legislation allows for both solicited and unsolicited proposals. Permitting unsolicited proposals allows private industry additional flexibility and innovation to address state and local government transportation and infrastructure needs;
  • Various project delivery methods are permissible, including design-build, operate and maintain, a concession providing for the developer to design, build, operate, maintain, manage or lease a transportation facility, and any other method that the public entity determines will address its needs and serve the public interest. But, the government entities will maintain ownership of the transportation facilities (roads, bridges, tunnels, etc.);
  • P3 projects are subject to competition through a request for proposals process and are awarded based on the best value to, and in the best interest of, the government entity; and
  • The General Assembly can block approvals by the Public-Private Transportation Board, but only for state transportation facilities.

We will continue to monitor the implementation and effect of PPTPs as they impact the construction industry and the Commonwealth.

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.

Matthew Tom, a summer associate with Cohen Seglias, contributed to this post.

By: Lori Wisniewski Azzara and Jennifer M. Horn

As a follow up to its 2006 report, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has issued a new report – Rooftops to Rivers II – that provides case studies for 14 geographically diverse Stormwater.jpgcities that employ green infrastructure solutions to address stormwater challenges. These leading cities, which include Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, have recognized the beneficial uses to stormwater, thereby reducing pollution and overall costs.

The NRDC estimates that 10 trillion gallons of untreated stormwater runs off of roofs, roads, parking lots and other paved surfaces a year. By implementing a green infrastructure, cities can not only save money but also minimize stormwater pollution and sewage overflow problems. The report recognizes the multitude of benefits a green infrastructure provides over conventional infrastructures (i.e., underground storage systems and pipes), particularly its cost-effectiveness, flood resilience and augmented local water supply.

The report identified six key actions that cities should take to maximize their green infrastructure investment and become “Emerald Cities,” including:

  • Developing a long-term green infrastructure plan;
  • Enforcing a strong retention standard for stormwater;
  • Requiring the use of green infrastructure to reduce and manage runoff;
  • Incentivizing residential and commercial property owners to install green infrastructures;
  • Providing assistance in accomplishing green infrastructure; and
  • Ensuring that a long-term and dedicated funding source is available to support the green infrastructure investment.

Of the 14 cities, Philadelphia was the only city to achieve all six Emerald City criteria and is the nation’s first city to formally commit to using green infrastructure as the primary means to satisfy its sewer overflow obligations. Pittsburgh achieved one of six Emerald City criteria by passing an ordinance that establishes stormwater volume reductions standards, including a requirement that developments larger than 10,000 square feet retain the first inch of rainfall on-site.

Lori Wisniewski Azzara is an associate at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. Mrs. Azzara practices in the areas of construction and commercial litigation and has experience in contract negotiation, claims for delay and inefficiency, mechanics’ liens, and all types of contractual disputes.

Jennifer M. Horn is Senior Counsel at Cohen Seglias and a member of the Construction Group. She concentrates her practice in the areas of construction litigation and real estate.

By: Jason Tomasulo

A number of outlets including Infrastructure Investor and the Washington Post are reporting the announcement by the Obama Administration of 14 projects that will be expedited through the permitting and environmental review processes. Several of the projects are located on the East Coast including:

  • A new Tappan Zee Bridge in New York (estimated to be $5.2 billion);
  • A 14-mile rail transit line (Baltimore Red Line) connecting suburban areas west of Baltimore to downtown Baltimore, the Inner Harbor and Fells Point areas, and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Campus; and
  • A mixed-use property (City Market at ‘O’ Street, District of Columbia) comprising 400 market-rate residential units, 16,000 square feet of retail space and a 57,000 square feet supermarket.

Jason Tomasulo is senior counsel in the Construction Group of Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman, PC. He focuses his practice on construction law and government contracts.

With Marcellus Shale natural gas continuing to grow in demand, it has become increasingly important to update the rail systems used to transport the product. With this in mind, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on April 18, 2011, announced a $6.8M grant to update the rail systems in four Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale counties, which include: Lycoming, Centre, Blair and Northumberland.train tracks.jpg

Included in the upgrades will be 200 miles of track and bridge improvements, which is estimated to create more than 300 construction jobs. These projects will “expand the capacity, efficiency and safety of Pennsylvania’s short line rail network.”

According to LaHood, “Projects like this advance President Obama’s vision to create jobs, support U.S. energy sources and reinvigorate the economy…Building an innovative, transportation network with world-class railways will help local businesses compete now and in the future.”

This grant was awarded as a part of President Barack Obama’s infrastructure plan, under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER II (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) initiative. A recent press release issued by the Federal Railroad Administration stated that the grant will be matched by $4.6 million from the Susquehanna Economic Development Association – Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority.

Through the TIGER II program, $600 million has been granted to 42 capital construction projects and 33 planning projects in 40 states for critical improvements to highways, bridges, transit systems, rail lines, bicycle and pedestrian paths and ports.

With the TIGER II program well underway, contractors should continue to look for ways to become involved in the numerous projects breaking ground throughout the country.

Rail Projects in Maryland

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has formally announced that he is submitting two applications to the Federal Railroad Administration for projects that would create more than 2,300 jobs.

O’Malley is applying for funds that recently became available after Florida Governor Rick Scott declined $2.4 billion in federal aid, that had been earmarked for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando.

The two Maryland projects that are up for consideration are:

  • BWI Area Improvements: $299 million for final design and construction of the BWI Area Improvements, including a critical new fourth track in the area of the station, and redevelopment of the station and pedestrian bridge to create access to all four tracks. Maryland is offering $41 million in matching funds for this project to improve rail infrastructure and service on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor along the MARC Penn line. The total investment for this final stage of the project will directly support an estimated 1,830 jobs.
  • Maryland Bridge Replacement: $116 million for Preliminary Engineering and National Environmental Policy Act analysis for the Northeast Maryland Bridge Replacement and Capacity Expansion project. This funding will advance studies to replace and add capacity to three bridges built in 1906 and 1913 across the Bush, Gunpowder and Susquehanna rivers. During this planning and environmental study phase the project will directly support an estimated 547 jobs.

We will continue to monitor developments on the status of Maryland’s applications and keep you updated on any new information available regarding other regional rail developments.

On September 6, 2010, President Barack Obama proposed a six-year, $50 billion plan to rebuild the nation’s highways, railways and airport runways. Obama’s plan includes rebuilding 150,000 miles of roads, construction and maintenance of 4,000 miles of railway – enough tracks to span the continent — and rehabilitation or reconstruction of 150 milesTraffic.jpg of airport runways. He also called for an “infrastructure bank” that would focus on paying for national and regional transportation projects.

It seems that Pennsylvania and New Jersey are heeding Obama’s call by making transportation a priority in the Keystone and Garden States.

New 5-Year Plan for New Jersey

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced this past Thursday a 5-year, $8 billion plan to renew the State’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and provide funding for New Jersey road and bridge projects. The annual $1.6 billion program will provide approximately $200 million for local government projects, $672 million for New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) projects and $728 for New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJ DOT) projects. The plan significantly increases cash contributions to the program, as compared to prior years, and relies less on borrowing bonds. Christie’s proposal will change the type of debt New Jersey will use to fund future transportation projects, and will include no toll or tax increases. In addition to the $1.6 billion program for local government projects, NJ Transit and NJDOT, the plan includes approximately $363 million average per year for projects that will be funded by the New York/New Jersey Port Authority in conjunction with NJDOT.

State projects slated to be funded through the Port Authority monies include a plan to renovate the Pulaski Skyway, the Route 7 Whitpenn Bridge and a new roadway in the Portway District of New Jersey.

Christie said that, “this is a significant commitment from the Port Authority to make our roadways and bridges safer as we travel through the port district.”

Want to Learn More about the TTF Plan?

NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson will review Gov. Christie’s TTF renewal plan at the Utility & Transportation Contractors Association’s (UTCA) upcoming membership meeting. The meeting is scheduled for January 13, 2011 at the Crowne Plaza in Jamesburg, New Jersey. Please contact the UTCA office at (732) 292-4300 for more information.

Smart Transportation Projects in Pennsylvania

The winners of the second round of the Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative have been announced, according to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. Forty-one communities across the state will get a portion of a $24.7 million fund to help boost “Smart Transportation” projects.

“Smart Transportation means partnering to build great communities for future generations of Pennsylvanians by linking transpiration investments and land-use planning and decision making,” said Biehler.

Smart Transportation projects are initiatives that support local economic development; encourage walkable, multimodal mixed-use development; improve regional connectivity or enhance the existing transportation network.

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