Company protests bridges project's selection of toll services fi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Company protests bridges project's selection of toll services firm

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A Tennessee company has filed a protest with Indiana finance officials, arguing that the state should reject its selection of a toll operator for the Ohio River Bridges Project because of “significant and undisclosed conflicts of interest.”

Nashville-based TransCore LP submitted its objections in a Sept. 25 letter to the Indiana Finance Authority, which last month recommended rival Kapsch TrafficCom IVHS Inc. to oversee a toll system for the three Ohio River bridges starting in 2016.

TransCore has filed the only formal protest, according to documents obtained under Indiana's public records law. The company was one of three companies passed over for the selection, which was based on price and technical elements and hasn't been finalized.

The Finance Authority, which handled the procurement on Kentucky's behalf, could take a final vote on the award at an Oct. 16 meeting, with the contract expected to be finalized in November.

In the company's letter to Indiana's finance director, TransCore President Tracy S. Marks wrote that Kapsch disclosed no conflicts of interest in its proposal. Marks alleges that the wife of a board member connected with one of Kapsch's “key” subcontractors works for the toll adviser to Kentucky and Indiana's “joint board.” That panel oversees the $2.6 billion bridges project for the two states.

“It is clearly an unfair competitive advantage for the Kapsch team to include the spouse of one of the primary consultants who is tasked to develop the specifications, review proposals for compliance, advise the Joint Board regarding recommendations, and assist in selection and negotiations with the winning proposer,” Marks wrote. “Kapsch's failure to disclose this inherent conflict of interest should disqualify their proposal.”

Marks alleged a second conflict of interest regarding a former employee who works for the toll adviser, Computer Aid Inc., and wrote that the relationship should have been revealed.

In addition, Marks claims there were “clear deficiencies” in the Kapsch proposal, such as having a company operate a customer service center that “has never provided a single system that meets the customer service center requirements” put forth by Indiana.

A group of Kentucky and Indiana officials evaluated the proposals from four bidders.

A Kapsch spokesman said in an email that the company doesn't comment on "any ongoing matters related to a pending or preliminary award.”

Kapsch would be paid $39.9 million to install, operate and maintain toll equipment for seven years and perform other services, such as toll collection. The Kennedy Bridge, a new span next to it and an eastern bridge at Prospect, Ky., will have equipment that tracks vehicles and assesses tolls based on license plates or in-car transponders.

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Reporter Marcus Green can be reached at (502) 585-0825 or on Twitter @MarcusGreenWDRB.

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