Editor’s Note: The following article is one in a series of six profiles of winners of NCPPP’s 2015 National Public-Private Partnership awards to recognize organizations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to advance the concept and implementation of P3s across the country. The winners were honored during P3 Connect 2015 in Boston.
If over the next few years, travelers find themselves riding over one or more recently replaced bridges in Pennsylvania, they will have Bryan Kendro to thank for adding significantly to the safety of their journeys. While serving as director of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Office of Policy & Public Private Partnerships, Kendro championed a variety of key P3 infrastructure, energy and communications initiatives. But none have been more important or have the potential for such success as the Rapid Bridge Replacement (RBR) Project.
This ground-breaking venture to accelerate the replacement of 558 structurally deficient bridges throughout the state under a single availability payment concession agreement is vitally important because nearly a quarter of Pennsylvania’s more than 22,000 bridges are classified as structurally deficient. The state lacks the traditional funding it needs, however, to repair or replace its current backlog of structurally deficient bridges and those that become deficient each year. Without the RBR Project, the number of deficient bridges would continue to increase.
This project has set many precedents. It is Pennsylvania’s first transportation P3, the nation’s first multi-asset availability payment concession and the first project in which the developer won approval through the Federal Highway Administration’s Special Experimental Project program to conduct the environmental process.
The RBR Project also is the first multi-asset project to receive a private activity bonds allocation — in the amount of $1.2 billion — from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Kendro was the driving force behind all of these firsts and other states now look to the RBR as a model they can follow to address their deteriorating transportation assets.
Kendro embarked on the RBR Project in August 2012 upon being appointed to direct Pennsylvania’s new Office of Policy & Public Private Partnerships, by establishing how the state’s P3 projects would be governed. He led the formulation of program guidelines and ensured acceptance by stakeholders and industry experts, resulting in approval of the guidelines by the state’s oversight body, the Public Private Transportation Partnership Board, in January 2013.
One of the project’s most daunting challenges was a lack of funding. Kendro worked with state lawmakers to develop legislation that would mandate the most significant increase in revenue dedicated to transportation improvement for any state in the country, by, for example, requiring that road and bridge user fees be used to maintain these assets. This law established the state’s bridge-building program and cleared the way for the RBR Project.
A hallmark of the RBR Project was the speed with which it was initiated. In November 2013, just two months after the oversight board approved it, Kendro held an industry forum to kick off the initiative and reached contract award a year later. Despite the challenges inherent in dealing with many stakeholders, the project reached commercial close in January 2015 and financial close two months later. All 558 bridges are scheduled for replacement by the end of 2017. The development and procurement of the RBR Project over such a short time span and the overwhelming amount of support it has received from the public, political leaders and industry, is a testament to Kendro’s exceptional leadership.
Kendro worked very closely with stakeholders to ensure a widespread understanding of the state’s needs and processes and with industry experts to ensure the incorporation of best practices into the project approach. He also engaged with industry and PennDOT during the procurement process to factor in both parties’ concerns. This inclusive approach led to the negotiation of contracts that save money for Pennsylvania by taking advantage of economies of scale and ensures that risks are allocated to the party that is best prepared to manage them.
NCPPP presented its Leadership Award to Kendro for his innovative and inclusive approach to ensuring the replacement and long-term safety of Pennsylvania’s bridges.
The RBR Project was not Kendro’s only P3 achievement with PennDOT. He established a sponsorship agreement for the state’s highway patrol and worked to forge partnerships for the operation of compressed natural gas fueling stations and the delivery of wireless telecommunications. He also co-founded the P3 Owner’s Network, which connects government agency directors nationwide to share best practices. Through these initiatives, Kendro has served as a resource to other agencies that seek to implement P3 programs and projects.
Kendro’s outstanding leadership in garnering widespread support for and guiding Pennsylvania’s RBR Project and other P3 initiatives, and his generous efforts to forge collaborative relationships within the P3 industry nationally, have paved the way for successful transportation P3s for many years to come.