ROADS/BRIDGES: Arizona’s South Mountain Freeway confirmed as P3 project

Dec. 30, 2015

Construction is slated to begin in summer 2016 on what is largest highway project in state’s history

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has selected a preferred developer for the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway, which remains on track for construction to begin in summer 2016 as the largest-ever highway project in the state.

This is the first highway public-private partnership in Arizona. While the South Mountain Freeway will not be a toll road, the public-private partnership will allow ADOT to construct the project at an accelerated pace and at a lower cost.

After an unsolicited public-private partnership proposal was submitted in 2013, ADOT sought proposals from qualified teams vying to develop the 22-mile-long freeway, which is the last piece of the Loop 202 system and a critical direct link between the West Valley and East Valley. From the five initial proposals submitted, three finalists were selected after a qualifications assessment to advance in the selection process.

Following an extensive review that included representatives from ADOT, the Federal Highway Administration, Maricopa Association of Governments and the city of Phoenix, Connect 202 Partners was chosen as the “best value” developer. Key members of the development team include Fluor Enterprises Inc., Granite Construction Co. and Ames Construction Inc., with Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. as the lead designer.

All three teams participating as finalists in the process were encouraged to use innovation and develop alternative concepts to save time and money, while adhering to all environmental commitments. The goal was to create an innovative public-private partnership that would have a private developer design and construct the freeway, as well as maintain the new highway for 30 years.

“While ADOT has successfully built and managed hundreds of miles of freeways in the Phoenix metropolitan area, following a public-private partnership path for the first time was an appropriate tool for the South Mountain Freeway,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “ADOT will be able to complete this much-needed project sooner as a result, while increasing the likelihood of saving taxpayer dollars.”

ADOT is expected to finalize the contract with Connect 202 Partners by mid-February 2016. The South Mountain Freeway will be constructed with four lanes in each direction – three general-use lanes and one HOV lane – and include modern features including rubberized asphalt and aesthetics designed in partnership with the community. Construction is expected to take up to four years to complete.

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