Friday, May 31, 2019

The Swamp - Local Edition

I live in a parish with a population of about 23,000. About 20% of that population lives below the poverty level. There is only one road in or out of the parish. The route in has a 2 lane tunnel under the Gulf Intercoastal Water Way. The way out has a 2 lane lift bridge. Somehow, the Louisiana Dept of Transportation and Development (DOTD) decided we needed a high rise bridge to eliminate traffic delays when marine traffic caused the bridge to lift and to eliminate maintenance costs on the leaky tunnel.

They went through an extensive process to evaluate options and gather public input. We were told that budgets were tight, therefore, the DOTD was going to offer this project as a Public Private Partnership (P3) and that the private entity would recover their investment by charging tolls to cross the new bridge. But don't worry, tolls will be as low as possible for the minimum amount of time.

They pre qualified 3 bidders and sent out the RFP. Then, 2 of the potential bidders declined to bid leaving them with only a single bidder. The DOTD has determined that this single bid is viable and will proceed with that consortium of contractors.

There was a public meeting this week to introduce the toll amounts. We were told that tolls for residents would be $0.45 each way and that tolls would remain in effect for 30 years. Tolls would be increased by $0.01 per year plus being adjusted by the CPI. When the politicos heard the resistance from the public, they countered with the veiled threat that if we didn't want the bridge, there were plenty of other places that could use the money.

P3 contracts have a mixed history of success. Many P3 deals cost the public more than repaying a bond. Several examples can be found with a quick Google search. This the first one that Louisiana has done so I don't have much optimism about its success. I have had 40 years as a project manager in the oil industry, If I went to my management with only a single bid and 2 bidders who declined, I would be told in no uncertain terms to do it over.

 Unfortunately, it's too late to stop this piece of crap. BOHICA.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Yeah, that's NOT a good situation, or plan either. Just look at the Greenway in Northern Virginia for how badly people are getting soaked.