CHICAGO — Indiana will tap a final team by mid-November to partner on the massive public-private partnership that makes up the state’s half of the Ohio River Bridges Project, officials said Tuesday.

The four previously announced teams that make up the short list of finalists have until Oct. 26 to prepare final detailed bids to the state.

Officials then plan to select a final team by early to mid-November and close the deal by the end of the year, according to Kendra York, executive director of the Indiana Finance Authority, which is overseeing Indiana’s role in the project with Kentucky.

Separately, the IFA and the Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority were scheduled Tuesday afternoon to approve a final master agreement for the $2.6 billion Louisville Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project.

The agreement clarifies each states’ role and power in the project, which will build two new bridges over the Ohio River between Louisville and southern Indiana and rebuild key downtown interchanges on both sides.

In an unusual step, the two states are taking separate financing approaches to the project. Indiana is assembling what will be one of the country’s largest P3s and Kentucky is relying on a traditional design-build approach that relies on grant anticipation revenue vehicle bonds and other funds.

Indiana plans to release finance details of its P3 structure by December, after selecting a final team, according to York. “We’ll get our bids in on Oct. 26, then we’ll be working hard to analyze those,” she said.
Tuesday’s formal approval of the bi-state agreement came after some delay while the two sides ironed out details.

“This is the first time two states have come together to do something like this, so there were just a lot of complicated legal issues,” York said. “This was a very novel, new agreement.”
She said “legal mechanics” over issues such as property ownership caused some of the delay.

The bridges will rely on toll revenue, which the states will split 50-50. The master agreement calls for a joint board that will manage the overall project as well as set and manage toll rates.

It will likely be a year or more before the toll rates are announced, officials said.

The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority, which oversees the financing side of the project, will meet within the next two weeks to delegate to the two states the necessary powers to “deliver the project,” according to a statement from the states released Tuesday.

“The development agreement ties together each state’s portion of the project and reaffirms the ‘two bridges, one project’ concept,” Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Michael Cline said in the release.

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