Two Companies Vying for Bridge Project

Tue July 08, 2003 - Midwest Edition

LOUISVILLE, KY (AP) Representatives for two companies vying for the $1.9 billion Ohio River Bridges Project will interview with Indiana and Kentucky transportation officials.

The project will go to either Community Transportation Solutions (CTS), a joint venture of companies, which have worked with the bridges project for five years, or the Michael Baker Corp., Moon Township, PA, which has helped build six bridges over the Ohio River.

The contract they seek could be worth up to $171 million, according to preliminary financing information.

The project calls for two bridges. One will connect Louisville with Jeffersonville, IN, and will be built just east of the Kennedy Bridge. The other, eastern, bridge will connect the Gene Snyder Freeway in Kentucky with Indiana 265 near Utica, IN.

The winning company will oversee all aspects of the project, including coordinating right of way acquisition, managing construction companies, ensuring environmental laws are followed and implementing commitments that the two states made to protect neighborhoods and historic homes and properties.

Both companies have promised to keep the work on budget and complete it before the estimated 17-year timeline officials have set.

U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, R-3rd District, has been a longtime supporter of the plan to build the bridges.

She said Kentucky and Indiana officials must be careful not to favor CTS because they have worked with the company during an environmental study of the plan.

Northup has criticized CTS for taking too long to complete that study. She also said CTS had problems that included initially failing to document that a subdivision in southern Indiana was being built in the eastern bridge path.

CTS corrected that omission and has defended its timetable, saying delays are expected for a complicated project that involves two states, two urban downtowns and dozens of historic properties.

”This is an enormously complicated project, and we need the best oversight we can get – or the cost will spiral even more out of control and the time will become longer and longer,’ Northup said.

The Michael Baker engineering company has 4,200 employees and has completed some of Pennsylvania’s biggest road projects.

If it receives the bridges contract, Baker would partner with Burgess and Niple, an architecture company in Columbus, OH, and 15 other companies, according to a 95-page proposal that Baker submitted in May.

One of the projects Baker and Burgess built was the William H. Harsha Bridge between Maysville and Aberdeen, OH. That structure, which opened in 2001, is the first cable bridge in Kentucky and in 2001 won the top award in a national engineering competition.

The bridge cost about $37 million.

Baker has never managed a bridge project as large as the one planned for Louisville and Southern Indiana, although it has been involved in other major work, including the $450 million rebuilding of Pittsburgh International Airport.

CTS is touting its five years of environmental work and knowledge of the project as the reason it deserves to oversee the construction.

CTS is a joint venture of three companies formed in 1998 to complete the $22.1 million environmental study for the bridges project.

Parsons Corp. is the lead, along with HMB Professionals of Frankfort and Beam, Longest and Neff engineers of Indianapolis.

The three would partner with 10 other companies to round out the CTS team, according to its 100-page proposal.

The company has built or participated in many of the nation’s major transportation projects, including the replacement of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, a $2.4 billion project under way in Washington, D.C.

The winning company will negotiate the terms and payment with the two states, said Mike Hazeltine of the Indiana Department of Transportation. The contract will be paid year by year over the life of the project.