Final bids on a 75-year concession agreement to operate the Pennsylvania Turnpike are due this Friday, May 16, as part of a plan pushed by Governor Edward Rendell (D) to generate extra funds for state highway repair, maintenance and construction.
“Because some bids were within 10% of the highest bid, we are obligated to solicit best-and-final offers due this week,” Rendell said in a press statement. “Full details will be made public once we have the highest bid, but for now my first responsibility is to assure that the Commonwealth receives the highest possible bids.”
The Governor noted that throughout the fall of last year and this spring, Pennsylvania state officials and financial advisor Morgan Stanley worked with transportation experts to develop specific terms and conditions so the state could maintain ownership of the Turnpike while generating maximum guaranteed additional annual transportation funding.
The lease plan currently out for bid requires concessionaires to: cap tolls at a maximum of 2.5% or the rate of inflation; protect turnpike worker collective-bargaining agreements; ensure completion of scheduled turnpike improvements; maintain the Turnpike at the same or better condition; and allow for annual independent audits through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to ensure compliance with the concession agreement. The lease plan also requires the concessionaire to reimburse the Commonwealth for the costs of the compliance audit, Rendell added.
“Any lease deal must guarantee that we keep the turnpike safe, affordable and well maintained for future generations,” he said. “We will continue to work hard to ensure that a private operator will be held to the highest standards of performance.”