The East End Crossing: Indiana Plans to Take Advantage of its P3 Enabling Statutes

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On March 8, 2012, the Indiana Finance Authority (“IFA”) issued a RFQ to design, build, finance, operate and maintain a tolled bridge facility and associated roadway and facilities (the “East End Crossing”) through a public-private partnership agreement. If this piques your interest, the Statements of Qualification are due April 9, 2012.

The East End Crossing will largely be a bridge across the Ohio River that will connect Clark County, Indiana and Jefferson County, Kentucky. A piece of the larger Ohio River Project, the East End Crossing will help improve cross-river transportation needs in the greater Louisville-Southern Indiana region.

Because Indiana, like many other states, recognizes that traditional funding sources for this project are limited, the state is reaching out to private equity to help maximize the funding to construct the bridge. Indiana is aware of the upside of P3 projects and that private sector innovation in the design and management of the East End Crossing will likely assist the state to complete the project quicker and more efficiently.

Indiana has passed P3 enabling legislation, allowing private investment in infrastructure projects. In this case, the applicable statutes are Ind. Code Ann. §§8-15.5-1-1 to 8-15.5-13-8, which authorizes the Indiana Finance Authority to enter into P3 agreements with private entities. The mandate is broad, and allows the government to enter into agreements to plan, design, acquire, construct, reconstruct, improve, extend, expand, lease, operate, repair, manage, maintain or finance toll road projects. Additionally, Ind. Code Ann. §§8-15.7-1-1 to 8.15.7-16-8 authorizes the Indiana DOT to enter into P3s to develop, finance or operate transportation projects, including tollways, roads, bridges, and some rail projects.

Will Indiana’s decision to welcome P3 projects pay off for the East End Crossing? Would the project be built if Indiana did not allow P3s? Neighboring states like Kentucky that do not have Indiana’s broad P3 enabling legislation ought to be watching closely. If Indiana gets its way, its infrastructure will be steadily improving thanks to private investment.