Ky., Ind., recommend Ohio River bridge toll systems provider - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky., Ind., recommend Ohio River bridge toll systems provider

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) – Indiana and Kentucky have selected a Virginia-based company to oversee the toll system for the Ohio River Bridges Project.

The four-member Kentucky-Indiana Joint Board, which includes top finance and transportation officials from both states, recommended Kapsch TrafficCom IVHS Inc., at a special meeting Monday.

The deal still needs the approval of the Indiana Finance Authority, an Indiana legislative committee and Gov. Mike Pence. A public meeting is scheduled for Sept. 29 in Jeffersonville, with a final contract expected in November.

The contract, estimated at $39.9 million, includes installing, operating and maintaining the toll equipment for seven years, said Kendra York, Indiana's public finance director. After that, the states have the option of renewing with Kapsch for two more years or re-bidding the contract, York said.

Representatives from the two states evaluated offers from four companies under a 1,000-point system that weighed price and technical elements. Details of Kapsch's offer were not disclosed, but were to be made public after the Indiana Finance Authority meets Tuesday afternoon in Indianapolis.

York declined to say whether Kapsch's price was the lowest among the four companies vying for the work.

“It was based on the total proposal score, and I'd really prefer just to leave it at that on that topic,” she said.

Kapsch, whose parent company is in Vienna, Austria, was chosen earlier this year to provide transponders for the $2.3 billion bridges project.

York, a joint board member, said that prior contract had no bearing on the selection announced Monday, although she acknowledged “there would probably would be some efficiencies with that.”

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock, also a joint board member, said Kapsch's involvement “should help, but that was not a prerequisite by any stretch. …. The more they know about our project and the more they know about what we do – the better.”

Among other tolling work, Kapsch TrafficCom maintains toll software for the Bay Area's Golden Gate Bridge and was recently chosen to install an electronic tolling system on the New York Thruway. A spokeswoman did not immediately return a phone message requesting information on the company's other U.S. tolling operations.

Indiana, which handled the procurement for both states, identified six firms last fall they hoped would respond to a request for proposals this summer. Two of those companies -- 3M Company of Saint Paul, Minn., and Portugal-based Brisa Inovacao e Tecnologia, S.A. – did not submit proposals, officials said Monday.

"3M is committed to the tolling industry; however, we do not share our strategic criteria around bidding opportunities," a spokeswoman said in a statement. Officials with Portugal-based Brisa could not be reached for comment.

Starting in 2016, tolls will be placed on the existing Kennedy Bridge, a new Interstate 65 span being built next to it and an eastern bridge between Prospect, Ky., and Utica, Ind. No tollbooths will be built; instead, drivers who owe tolls will be identified based on pre-paid transponders or their license plates.

Also on Monday, officials from both states reiterated that tolls will remain on the bridges until at least 2053 – when Kentucky is set to finish paying its toll-bond debt -- and gave no indication that removing tolls early is being considered.

“If revenues materialize that are greater than anticipated, there are a number of things we could do – such as keeping the rates constant for a longer period of time and not increasing them,” Hancock said.

“As we've said publicly, the tolls are going to be in place for the term of the financing,” York said.

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