Gov’t initiates search for private operator of island toll roads
By The Star Staff
The Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A) has issued requests for statements of qualifications (SOQs) for private firms interested in managing the island’s four toll roads.
The requests, which began to circulate among stateside companies earlier this month, come as the government announced this week that it had awarded a 30-year concession to San Juan Cruise Port, a subsidiary of London-based Global Ports Holdings, for the repair, design, construction, financing, maintenance and operation of the San Juan Bay cruise terminals.
The deadline for the receipt of the SOQs is Sept. 19.
The P3A and the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority (HTA) are seeking firms interested in the financing, operating, maintaining and improving of PR-20, PR-52, PR-53 and PR-66 as part of a long-term concession agreement.
The roads consist of 622.25 lane miles and served nearly 118 million vehicle transactions in fiscal year 2021, according to a document obtained by the STAR.
PR-52 and PR-66 originate within the San Juan metropolitan area and extend into the southern and eastern municipalities of the island, respectively. PR-53 originates in the municipality of Fajardo, on the island’s east coast, and extends toward the south. PR-20 is a critical freeway that increases mobility through the municipality of Guaynabo, which is both part of the San Juan metropolitan area and one of the largest cities outside San Juan.
The P3A, according to a document, is conducting a procurement process whereby the HTA will ultimately enter into a public-private partnership relating to the toll roads, the document says.
The P3A and the HTA are seeking to maximize the upfront value of the toll roads so the HTA can reinvest in transportation improvements in Puerto Rico, address outstanding PRHTA debt and improve the toll roads’ safety standards, service levels and roadway quality.
The P3A says it will evaluate all received SOQs to select a shortlist of respondents that are eligible to receive requests for proposals pursuant to certain criteria. Winning bidders must prove they have the financial and technical capacity as well as the experience to operate the toll roads.
The HTA filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and is expected to have its debt adjustment plan, which cuts its debt by more than 80% to $1.2 billion, approved by the Title III bankruptcy court later this month.
The HTA’s fiscal plan calls for HTA to operate the island’s non-toll roads and put the toll roads under a separate entity.