New York state transportation officials and industry participants are scrambling to meet Gov. Andrew Cuomo's push to have work under way later this year on the $5-billion-plus replacement of the aging Tappan Zee Bridge. Four design-build teams shortlisted on Feb. 7 have yet to see a final request for proposals but have only until about mid-June to submit their detailed design and building plans, says a state transportation agency spokesman. "We've had more time on $50-million jobs," says one team executive who declined to be identified during the contracting phase.
The Hudson River span will be New York's largest bridge and the first procured under a design-build law enacted in December.
One team shortlisted by the State Thruway Authority and Transportation Dept. is led by Dragados USA and Flatiron Constructors. The state did not release or confirm, by press time, names of any team's engineers, but T.Y. Lin and HNTB are on this one. Also shortlisted is Kiewit Infrastructure Co., Skanska USA Civil and Weeks Marine with Parsons Brinckerhoff and Parsons Transportation Group.
Bechtel Infrastructure and Tutor Perini Corp. qualified, with designers Michael Baker, STV and Gannett Fleming. Also shortlisted is a team of Fluor Enterprises, American Bridge, Granite Construction and Traylor Bros., with designers HDR, Buckland & Taylor and URS. The authority said five teams sought to bid, but a spokesman did not confirm competitors' reports that a team headed by Italy's Impregilo and U.S.-based Halmar was not selected. Halmar did not respond by ENR press time.
"Due diligence of all teams and individual companies will continue as we move toward selection of the team who will actually build this bridge," says Ted Nadratowski, Thruway chief engineer. While price is key, teams will also be judged on factors such as management strength, bridge maintainability and "architectural iconism," says the executive. Teams have until Feb. 16 to submit questions on a draft RFP received on Feb. 9 "that's a mile deep," says a participant who also requested anonymity. He says teams remain concerned about receiving pile-load-test data needed as a design guide.
The authority spokesman would not confirm team member reports that the procurement includes a $2.5-million stipend for each proposing team. "Even the losers get lucky sometimes," says Wall Street construction sector analyst Avram Fisher of BMO Capital Markets. "The contract is large enough that even members of the losing bids could be selected to subcontract portions of the work."
Cuomo is keen to start construction by November, possibly as early as August, team participants and others say. "I'm going to build Tappan Zee just to show we can," he told an industry dinner last month. But firm executives also wonder how well agencies not used to design-build procurement will keep the process on track.