State To Submit Plan For Buynow Paylater Contract
By Eric Kalis
Florida Department of Transportation officials are to send a proposed payment plan this week to a Hialeah construction company that proposed a buy-now, pay-later contract to rebuild an 11-mile stretch of US 1.
The department met Monday and decided to ask the state comptroller’s office to prepare a "financial matrix" in response to a $140 million proposal by Community Asphalt Corp. to build and finance the final portion of a 20-year-old US 1 improvement project, said Teresa Alvarez, District Six consultant management engineer. The unfinished stretch of US 1 is between Florida City and the Jewfish Creek Bridge in the upper Florida Keys, beginning at the South C-111 Canal and extending to Southwest 344th Street.
Department officials hope to get a prompt response from Community Asphalt Corp. and to begin negotiations immediately, Ms. Alvarez said.
The company’s offer is only the second unsolicited proposal the department has received, she said. The proposal is unique — the company would finance the project now in return for payment by the department in 2012.
"We had a meeting [Monday] to figure out exactly how to proceed," Ms. Alvarez said. "These are new waters for us."
Community Asphalt is already rebuilding a $39 million, 3-mile section of the highway under a state contract. Project Manager Juan Hernandez said last week the company is finishing earth and base work and building structures underneath the roadway to properly align drainage. The scope of the remaining work would include road widening, a new northbound shoulder that could be used as an emergency evacuation route, an additional median barrier and restoration of natural water flow under the highway.
"From what I understand, we would continue the same type of roadway alignment that is currently under construction," Mr. Hernandez said.
The benefits of the company’s financial proposal would be reciprocal, department District Six Secretary Johnny Martinez said. The state would finish the project about five years ahead of schedule and save up to a projected 11 lives annually because of the early start, he said. The company would increase its long-term profits because the state’s reimbursement would be based on 2012 costs.
The department did not receive any other proposals for the project after a public bidding process concluded this month, Mr. Martinez said.
Should the company balk at the department’s payment plan and opt out of the project, department officials would have to wait until the state could allocate enough funding to finish the project, Ms. Alvarez said.
"We are currently designing the scope of the project," she said. "The advantage of starting construction earlier is that we would not have to wait until the first available fiscal year for funding." Advertisement