Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway
Scioto County, Ohio
Owner: Ohio Dept. of Transportation
Developers: Portsmouth Gateway Group; ACS Infrastructure Inc.
Joint Venture General Contractor: Dragados USA Inc.; Beaver Excavating Co.; John R. Jurgensen Co.
Lead Design Firm/Structural Engineer/Civil Engineer: ms consultants inc.
Bridge Engineer: TranSystems
Geotechnical Engineer: SM&E Inc.
The Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway/State Route 823 is a $645-million, design-build-finance-operate-maintain project. The design-build portion of the contract was valued at $429 million. Construction included a 16-mile, four-lane divided highway bypassing the city of Portsmouth, 80 intersections and 30 traffic signals. This public-private-partnership project is the largest single road construction project in the history of Ohio and ODOT’s first P3. Going with this delivery method allowed ODOT to write new specifications and adopt innovations from projects across the U.S. and also reduced project delivery time by 17 years.
The Portsmouth Gateway Group (PGG), the P3 that won the project, is a consortium that includes Dragados USA Inc., Beaver Excavating Co., John R. Jurgensen Co., ms consultants inc., ACS Infrastructure Development, Infrared Capital Partners Ltd. and Star America Fund GP. The contract stipulated that PGG must fund initial construction and deliver on time. State funds will pay back any loans, interest and related charges over time, and PGG will also be responsible for maintaining the road through 2053. ODOT’s total cost for the project could increase to $1.2 billion over the term of the maintenance contract, but only full compliance to a rigid set of requirements laid out in the contract will result in full payment. Time for roadkill removal was even written into a requirement.
“If we were just to say, for example, do it for 10 years, then we might as well have just gotten bonds and not had the developer finance it,” says Tom Barnitz, ODOT’s project manager. “Once you start looking at a financing package, you need to look at longer-term horizons in terms of decades and the operation and maintenance ties in with that very well because many of these assets are going to have to be renewed during that period and that lends itself to a P3 very well.”
Barnitz added that ODOT was happy with the number of bids it got and the entire process of construction.
For Beaver Excavating, part of the JV general contractor, that meant moving more than 20 million cu yd of mainly sandstone rock, sand and soil; installing 16 miles of asphalt paving; and building 22 bridges from 2015 to 2018. Breaking the job into segments—either by geographic limitations such as rivers or railroads and working within those areas almost as separate projects—to construct the different elements that were required was key to keeping things on schedule.
“As the job grew and became connected ... then we started looking at it more as one whole project, so we could be as efficient as possible with the resources,” says Chad Ratkovich, Beaver’s senior project manager. In December 2018, State Route 823 was delivered on time and on budget.