While a $12.8 billion long-term lease bid for the Pennsylvania Turnpike expired this week, Gov. Edward Rendell plans to revisit the issue in the next two-year legislative session.
The bidding consortium of Citi and Abertis Infraestructuras did not extend its $12.8 billion offer to manage the 530-mile turnpike for 75 years after the initial period expired Tuesday. Citi/Abertis had extended its offer twice beyond the original July 20 deadline. Yet legislation that would allow the state to enter into a concession agreement on the turnpike continues to lag in the House Transportation Committee and Citi/Abertis decided instead to focus on possible new legislation in 2009.
Citi/Abertis senior adviser Jim Courtovich said the consortium "knows this road better than anyone" and would still be interested in working next year with the state on crafting another concession agreement if the opportunity arose.
"On our side, we're very encouraged to continue the dialogue and be available to discuss with them should they bring this up again," Courtovich said.
Rendell announced that his preference is to work with Citi/Abertis again on creating a long-term lease agreement, but the state would need to redo the bidding process after lawmakers pass public-private partnership legislation. Rendell spokesman Barry Ciccocioppo said the administration anticipates filing new P3 legislation after the state's legislative session begins again on Jan. 1.
"Your team has worked very hard over the last year to prepare your offer and make the case for it," Rendell said in a press statement. "I want you to know how much I appreciate your hard work, and how much I look forward to the day when we can become true partners in financing and managing Pennsylvania's transportation network."
Whether the turnpike will again attract a bid as high as $12.8 billion remains to be seen given the current tighter financial market compared to mid-May, when Citi/Abertis first offered its $12.8 billion bid. In the meantime, money is also being committed to other projects. Citi, along with YVR Airport Services Ltd. and John Hancock Life Insurance Co., formed a consortium to lease Chicago's Midway Airport for $2.52 billion for 99 years, Mayor Richard Daley announced Tuesday.
Ciccocioppo, in response to a question about how much the turnpike could bring in next year, said: "The governor has said this year, since the bid has been on the table and especially given the financial situation lately with the nation, that the $12.8 billion bid is a significant opportunity for the commonwealth to fund public transit, road, and bridge repairs."