On hold? Typical wait for RiverLink calls exceeds one hour

RiverLink toll gantry 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky plans to spend $300,000 over the next year for a Florida-based consultant to advise transportation officials on the Ohio River Bridges Project and any proposals they receive under the state’s new public-private partnership law.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s contract with PFM Financial Advisors LLC of Orlando, Fla., took effect March 31 and was reviewed by the state's government contract review committee on Tuesday. There were no objections to the contract, according to committee staff.

PFM will charge the state $310 per hour for work aiding the Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority, a state agency largely appointed by the governor and staffed by the Transportation Cabinet. The state’s road fund or toll revenues would cover the consultant’s costs.

The company ended a previous contract last June that paid $285 per hour, totaling as much as $900,000 for up to five years. Its work included helping the authority on the 2013 financing of Kentucky’s part of the $2.3 billion bridges project and estimating that the all-electronic RiverLink toll system would cost less to operate that originally thought.

PFM also was hired by Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration last fall to analyze the state’s troubled pension systems. The company will be paid $796,300 for that work, up from an original amount of $556,300.

Under the contract with the Transportation Cabinet, PFM and any subcontractors would help Kentucky officials determine whether the toll revenue generated by the RiverLink bridges is enough to make debt payments on the project’s bonds.

If not, the consultants could be asked to advise the authority how to increase toll revenue or cut expenses.

They also would work with Kentucky officials to review any proposals under a public-private partnership law that passed the legislature in 2016. The law allows developers to make unsolicited proposals to the state.

Megan McLain, assistant general counsel to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said in an email that no such proposals have been submitted.  

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