Bridges toll operator targeted, but more work ahead before deal is done
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – After a failed effort last year, Indiana officials have chosen the company they want to manage an electronic toll system for the Ohio River Bridges Project.
But it may be months before the identity of the potential toll operator is made public.
The Indiana Finance Authority, which is overseeing the procurement on behalf of Kentucky and Indiana, notified the “preferred proposer” on Tuesday, said Stephanie McFarland, an agency spokeswoman.
McFarland said IFA remains on track to meet a schedule that includes completing negotiations with the company by March 11 and signing an agreement by March 12. The final contract would be approved by a bi-state bridges board set to meet May 1.
At that point, she said, the identity of the company would be disclosed. “That would be announced whenever the board takes its vote,” she said.
Kapsch TrafficCom IVHS had its $39.9 million contract rescinded last fall after an investigation uncovered a potential conflict of interest involving a subcontractor. Indiana then re-opened the bidding process and Kapsch wasn't barred from participating.
Earlier this month, the bridges project's four-member joint board awarded a $2.1 million contract to eTrans KY Inc. to oversee the work of the toll system operator. eTrans KY replaces Computer Aid Inc., which had been involved in the conflict-of-interest dispute.
The names of the companies vying for one of the $2.3 billion project's final – and most critical – contracts haven't been released. David Talley, innovative finance manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said last month there were four finalists.
Kerry Stemler, a Sellersburg, Ind., businessman and Finance Authority member, said in an interview last month that the four companies were “very qualified.”
“We were really pleased with the bidders and to keep four bidders in it – everybody likes competition. It keeps cost in line,” Stemler said.
He declined to say whether Kapsch was one of the finalists.
Three bridges would be tolled – the Interstate 65 Kennedy Bridge and a new span being built next to it, and an upriver crossing near Utica, Ind. Instead of tollbooths, equipment placed near the bridges will determine tolls based on in-car transponders and license plate photos.
Drivers will pay tolls through pre-paid accounts tied to their transponders or license plate number; bills also will be mailed to the owners of vehicles based on their license plates.
Kentucky and Indiana are seeking to join the E-Z Pass network of electronic toll roads, keeping local drivers who already use those transponders from having to buy devices for the Louisville-only roads.
Tolls are set to begin on the bridges in early 2017.
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