CHICAGO -- Indiana Wednesday released a request for information for firms interested in the state’s latest public-private partnership -- a $350 million to $500 million project to complete a section of the new Interstate 69 running from Evansville to Indianapolis.

Firms have until December to respond. Indiana broke ground on I-69 in 2008, and built the first four sections of the 67-mile road using mostly proceeds from the $3.8 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road.

With proceeds from the toll road sale mostly spent down or earmarked for other projects, the state is now embarking on a public-private partnership to finance Section 5, and possibly Section 6, of the road, officials said.

The new RFI applies to Section 5, a 21-mile stretch that includes updating an existing four-lane highway to interstate standards, the state said.

It’s one of the three P3 transportation projects in the state that carry a high price tag. The state is also tapping a P3 model to build its half of the $1.2 billion Ohio River Bridges project, which is a partnership with Kentucky, and expects to use a P3 model for the so-called Illinia Corridor Expressway, a shared roadway with Illinois that is now in the environmental permitting stages.

“We’re always looking for these opportunities,” Will Wingfield, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation said. “Indiana prides itself on taking advantage of this opportunity to fund and accelerate the construction of projects. I would expect to see more in the future.”

The state is considering either a design-build-finance model or a design-build-finance-operate-maintain model for the new I-69 section.

Under the first model, the private team would be responsible for securing financing as well as designing and building the project. The state, operating through the Indiana Finance Authority and INDOT, would make a series of payments over a yet-to-be determined period to repay the private partner.

Under a design-build-finance-operate-maintain model, the private team would be responsible for the financing, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of the stretch of highway. The state would make periodic availability payments over a long-term period after construction is done, the RFI said.

Under both models, the state is considering the use of milestone payments during construction to offset the funding requirement, according to the RFI. The state’s payments would come from a mix of traditional transportation revenue, including state and federal funds, and possibly a trust fund set up with the proceeds from the toll road lease, according to Wingfield.

Responses to the RFI are due Dec. 31, 2012. The state plans to publish a request for qualifications by February 2013, publish a final request for proposals by July 2013, and award a final contract by October 2013.

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