A private company has submitted a proposal to build the South Mountain Loop 202 Freeway with private funds, which could allow the freeway to be built quicker and with less expense.
The proposal is not for a toll road.
This proposal is the first unsolicited proposal for a highway public-private partnership submitted to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), which will complete an initial review of the proposal that the private company will pay for, and will then conduct a more detailed analysis. If the proposal passes that phase ADOT must seek other requests for proposals from other companies with competitive proposals.
“The South Mountain Freeway remains a corridor under study, and this public-private partnership proposal has no impact on the ongoing environmental impact statement that is scheduled to be finalized in 2014,” said a statement from ADOT. “The environmental impact statement must be completed and acceptable to the Federal Highway Administration regardless of how the proposed project is funded or constructed.”
The proposal was submitted by a group of private companies working under the name South Mountain Development Group. The group includes Kiewit Development Co., Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., Sundt Construction, Inc., and Parsons Corporation.
According to an executive summary from the group, South Mountain Development’s proposal will deliver the entire corridor at a lower cost and ahead of the current schedule; develop potential cost savings through design, construction and life cycle innovations; explore private-sector investment and financial solutions that maximize public funds; offer flexibility; and provide significant subcontracting and job opportunities.
The group believes its proposal will reduce cost and time enough that the state could afford to repay investors while still saving money.
“Any public-private partnership proposal has to be aligned with the goals and interests of taxpayers,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski in a statement. “We look for concepts that can be done better, faster and less expensively, providing real value for the traveling public. As the first unsolicited proposal for a highway project, this concept shows the role ADOT is playing in seeking innovative solutions to address the state’s transportation challenges.”
A public-private partnership, often called a P3, is a contractual agreement between a public agency, like ADOT, and a private sector entity. A P3 allows the private sector entity to have greater participation in a project and allows ADOT and the private partner to share the project’s risks and responsibilities.
ADOT has completed a public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the South Mountain Freeway. During that time ADOT received more than 5,000 public comments, including one 318-page document submitted by an Ahwatukee Foothills group that has hired several experts to help stop the freeway in court.
The Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) voted to take an official “No Build” stance in February of 2012, but a group of Landowners who own allotted lands along Pecos Road are still fighting to have the freeway moved onto their land.
The group’s initiative to have the earlier vote rescinded was shut down by the tribal council after the elections office said there were not enough valid signatures to continue. The Landowners do not believe the number of “fraudulent” signatures that were removed is correct. They are waiting to review a report submitted by the GRIC Police Department.
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