And Then There Was One…
After three weeks of cajoling the NCDOT with a FOIA request, and a couple calls to the NC Attorney Generals office, I finally got a response about who actually bid on the toll lane contract. I received a cut and paste of a carefully worded statement. Here it is (emphasis added):
Four potential bidders were shortlisted and participated in more than 70 intensive, one-on-one meetings with NCDOT. These meetings helped us produce several drafts of the final contract documents. These documents lay out the instructions for bidding, the design, construction, and maintenance performance requirements and the overarching agreement. They reflect the minimum contract requirements and the public protections that we require (e.g. bonding, insurance, termination rights, revenue sharing, etc.)
In addition, we stated that the maximum contribution from traditional state funding would be capped at $170 million.
Each of the four bidders conducted exhaustive analyses to determine if they could meet these contract requirements while ensuring that the long term contract would generate enough revenue to offset their initial investment.
Bidders requested varying amounts of additional state and federal funding beyond the $170 Million, and/or requested that a multitude of the contract requirements be relaxed. We determined that the $170 million public contribution was reasonable and the public protections in place in the contract were prudent. The cap would not be increased.
Bids were due on March 31, 2014 and one bidder submitted a compliant technical proposal and financial proposal. The proposals were subjected to roughly 200 pass/fail criteria and further evaluation of the relative merits of their technical proposal.
The apparent best value proposer was announced on April 11, 2014 as Cintra Infraestructures. Cintra proposed a total project investment of $655 million, of which only $88 million is the NCDOT contribution (less than the projected $170 million contribution).
So there you have it… after three years, 70+ meetings and umpteen hours working the agreement, only one consortium was interested in bidding. Somewhere a red light should be flashing.