Rapid Bridge Replacement Project, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has been among the states with the largest number of structurally deficient bridges. Records from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) showed that 18 percent of its bridges were in poor shape, compared with a national average of 7.3 percent. In 2012, the state passed a law allow PennDOT to use P3s to save money and replace small bridges faster.

The partners

PennDOT and Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners, a consortium using 11 state-based subcontractors to design and build the 558 small bridges within three years – and then maintain them for 25 years.

The financing

Under the $899 million contract, Pennsylvania retains ownership of the bridges and may issue up to $1.2 billion in private-activity bonds to pay for the work. For their part, contractors must work efficiently to avoid fines for delays.

The results

In 2008, Pennsylvania had more than 6,000 deficient bridges. Thanks in part to the P3 law, that number was reduced to more than 3,500 as of spring 2017, with 124 small bridges replaced in 2016. The P3 arrangement streamlines construction, state Rep. Pam Snyder told the Associated Press. “You have a cookie-cutter design. It looks like, from what’s happening today, it’s working.”

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