The Interstate 285/S.R. 400 interchange reconstruction, Georgia’s first public-private partnership to be financed with a tax-exempt bank loan, has received a notice to proceed.

North Perimeter Contractors (NPC) won the contract in early April to reconstruct the I-285/state Route 400 interchange, north of Atlanta, for the Georgia Dept. of Transportation as a design-build-finance project. NPC’s team includes Ferrovial Agromán US Corp. as lead contractor, with Louis Berger Group and Neel-Schaffer Inc.

GDOT’s original $1.1 billion project estimate was cut to $803 million, partly because of NPC’s bid of $458 million for construction, says Albert “Butch” Welch, GDOT program manager. “In every area that we evaluated, they found efficiencies that the other teams did not, on top of the fact that they had more creative and flexible financing,” he said.

“There wasn’t one magic solution” that enabled NPC to reduce construction costs, says Daniel Filer, vice president of business development with Ferrovial. “It was a combination of a lot of little things,” including good communication with GDOT. “We secured a tax-exempt bank loan for the total investment of up to $458 million,” from Bank of America, he adds. “The loan matures in 2022, while construction is scheduled to take four years or until 2020,” Filer notes.

The interchange handles more than 400,000 vehicles a day. “The maintenance of traffic is a huge issue on this job,” says Welch. Keeping the public informed will be critical, Filer adds. Ferrovial will draw on its experience with the $2.5-billion LBJ Freeway P3. “One of our very effective tactics in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was a combination of the different social-media platforms,” he says.

New barrier-separated collector- distributor lanes will remove conflict points from the existing main lanes, which will flow freely. The project also includes new flyover bridges and reconstruction of existing ramps and bridges. GDOT estimates that the improvements will save the average commuter eight hours a year.