Plenary Group is the project sponsor, financial arranger, and 80% equity investor for the Pennsylvania Rapid Bridge Replacement Project; the first public private partnership to bundle multiple bridges in a single procurement in the U.S. and Plenary’s third U.S. project to close.
The project will see the accelerated replacement of 558 geographically dispersed bridges across Pennsylvania that have been classified as being in poor condition.
Under the PPP contract Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners will finance and manage the bridges' design, construction and maintenance during a 28-year contract term. PennDOT will be responsible for routine maintenance such as snow plowing, debris removal, and incident first response.
Construction began in the summer of 2015 with a Substantial Project Completion expected in 2018.
Design and construction features
Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners will manage the accelerated replacement of 558 bridges.
Bridge designs and components will be standardized as much as possible to facilitate efficient design approvals, permitting, materials procurement, and construction.
The Walsh Granite JV will take responsibility for procuring key materials and bridge components in order to benefit from economies of scale while allowing the bridge subcontractors to focus on efficient bridge construction.
Traffic control plans will be developed for each bridge to provide adequate access and staging of materials and equipment, while minimizing the impact the communities and traveling public.
This is the first multi-asset PPP to be undertaken in the US.
At a par value of $721.5M, this is the largest issuance of Private Activity Bonds for a P3 transaction.
This is the first PPP project in the US to utilize a performance bond with an accelerated adjudication period, which S&P credited in their ratings rationale as providing greater certainty to investors.
As part of its bid, PWKP developed Alternative Technical Concepts to achieve PennDOT’s goals and maximize value for the Project. These alternate proposals provided a solution that would expedite bridge replacements, reduce construction costs, minimize impacts to traffic and reduce maintenance requirements.
Local economic impacts
The construction plan envisions that the majority of bridge construction work will be performed by approximately 18 different Pennsylvania-based subcontractors. A local approach that will see the design and construction of the bridges completed within PennDOT’s challenging 36 month program. The majority of construction personnel will be members of various local trade unions.
The large quantity of construction materials required for the project will be primarily sourced from suppliers and fabricators located in and near Pennsylvania, providing a large and steady volume of orders over the 3 year construction period.