Not so Fast on an Alligator Alley Lease

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is seeking to lease the 78-mile section of Interstate 75 known as Alligator Alley to a private entity and to increase tolls on the roadway that will guarantee the winning bidder a profit. A state senator has thrown a roadblock in the path of the deal.

On one hand, six private firms are on the FDOT’s short list for the lease. It had originally established December 15 as the deadline for receiving Request for Proposals (RFP) from the six with the expectation of signing a contract with the winner in early 2009. The FDOT has extended the deadline for receipt of the RFPs to January 9 with announcement of the bids to be made public on January 12.

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State Senator Dave Aronberg, who won re-election, filed a bill calling for a two-year moratorium on public-private leases and to prohibit foreign-based companies from leasing state assets. Each of the six private firms on the short list has at least one supporting member based in a foreign country.

The Everglades Parkway was built in the late 1960’s as a two-lane, controlled-access toll road. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the FDOT widened the road into what is now called Alligator Alley, making it four lanes and a limited-access, tolled road, part of the Florida Intrastate Highway System. Within the State, Interstate 75 runs along the West Coast to Naples, then across to Miami on the East Coast.

According to FDOT, during fiscal year 2007, 8.3 million toll transactions on Alligator Alley produced $23.5 million in revenues. Operations and maintenance costs for that same period were $6.1 million.

Omitting mention of non-equity partners the six entities on the short list are: The Alligator Alley Development Partners that includes Mexico’s OHL Concesiones and US Carlyle Infrastructure Partners LP; Italy’s Atlantia S.p.A; France’s Vinci Concessions, and US Hubbard Construction; Portugal’s Brisa, Brazil’s CCR and US JP Morgan IF Acquisitions LLC; Spain’s Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte SA; and Spain’s Global Via Infraestructuras, S.A. The latter also has LBI Group, Inc., a part of Lehman Brothers that collapsed and was acquired by the UK’s Barclays.

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