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Innovative public/private partnership in Norco could expand beyond bridge repair

By allowing the private sector to perform and finance construction work that’s previously been the purview of the public realm, transportation-related projects, even those on nontolled roads, can get done a lot faster.

By allowing the private sector to perform and finance construction work that’s previously been the purview of the public realm, transportation-related projects, even those on nontolled roads, can get done a lot faster.

What’s more, it’s an approach that not only makes the process of completing the project more efficient and less costly, it also could be replicated yearly and spread beyond roads, bridges, tunnels and other typical road projects.

That’s according to a team invested in using a public/private partnership to rebuild and repair 33 bridges in Northampton County in a contract awarded to a Lackawanna County construction firm last week.

“I think we are on the front edge of a wave that I think is unstoppable,” said Ryan Durkin, a solicitor who is representing the county on the project. Known as “P3,” it’s a model that could be applied nationally, he added.

A program hosted at the Holiday Inn & Conference Center in Upper Macungie Township on Thursday delved into the benefits and details of the county’s new project and how public/private partnerships can be successfully applied.

Norris McLaughlin & Marcus of Allentown hosted the program, with John F. Lushis Jr. and Peter D. Hutcheon representing the Northampton County General Purpose Authority on the project. The authority, which is a separate entity from the county, acts as the conduit through which the funds are sent by the developer.

Kriger Construction Inc. of Dickson City, Lackawanna County, is both the developer and the construction firm that’s performing the work through a public/private partnership and also financing the project. The Allentown office of Chicago-based Alfred Benesch and Co., an engineering firm, will provide oversight.

With a typical public/private partnership, the government entity, such as the Pennsylvania Turnpike, uses future earnings on tolls to fund projects. But the speakers said this public/private approach also can work on roads, bridges and tunnels that do not have tolls.

For this project, the developer bears the entire risk.

“It’s an innovative approach,” said Northampton County Executive John Brown.

Brian Pedersen
Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108.

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