MDTA Begins Taking Bids for New Key Bridge Design

June 4, 2024
Current projections have the structure opening in 2028

Officials from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) are prioritizing speed and experience as they seek bids from private companies to design and build the new Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

According to Baltimore Business Journals, MDTA on Friday sent out a formal solicitation for proposals, calling for completion of the bridge design “as quickly as possible” to pave the way for construction.

To expedite the project, transportation officials want to employ a design-build process, in which the state awards an initial contract for both engineering and construction with the hope that the initial team and the state will agree on a guaranteed maximum price before construction starts.

The MDTA has said will award a contract based on who is most qualified for the job.

“In some cases with procurements, we might have things timed for certain approvals and allow ourselves certain windows,” said Bruce Gartner, MDTA executive director, in a statement to The Daily Record. “What we’re saying in this one is that we’re going to be working as quickly as possible.”

The federal government has used progressive design-build processes to expedite publicly contracted projects. While Maryland law requires pricing to be part of the evaluation for procurement contracts, the MDTA ensured the process fit into state regulations.

“MDTA was careful in the (request for proposals) to make pricing a part of the evaluation by incorporating a percentage markup as the pricing factor,” said Barry Gogel, an attorney with Rifkin Weiner Livingston, who is a co-chair of the firm’s state procurement practice, in a statement.

The contractors will first develop the project scope and requirements based on guidelines the MDTA has established in its request for proposals, and it will have negotiating rights for the project’s lifecycle.

After an initial estimate stating that the Key Bridge rebuild would cost between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion, the MDTA has narrowed the projection to $1.7 billion, Gartner said.

Design-build teams have until June 24 to submit their proposals, and the MDTA is scheduled to select a contractor by mid to late summer.

Physical protections for the Key Bridge will be an imperative part of proposals the state receives for the initial contract.

Rebuilding the bridge and its vital port will require “the best solutions possible” to protect the new structure, Gartner said to Baltimore Business Journal.

Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said last month that the new bridge would be a cable-stayed structure, featuring diagonal cables connecting to vertical towers to support the weight of the bridge deck, and with piers providing more room to ships.

The design-build team is expected to complete its work and have all bridge lanes open to vehicle traffic by Oct. 15, 2028.

Source: The Daily Record, Baltimore Business Journal

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