Lawmakers Struggle with
Turnpike Authority Received Federal Approval of Garden Parkway Route
RALEIGH — The North Carolina Turnpike Authority has received a Record of Decision for the Garden Parkway from the Federal Highway Administration, signifying final federal approval of the project’s route. Several potential routes were under consideration, and Detailed Study Alternative 9 was ultimately selected as the project’s preferred alternative.
Now that the project’s route has been determined, the Authority will obtain construction permits and finalize the project’s plan of finance. The preliminary plan of finance currently contains a mix of state appropriation bonds, toll revenue bonds and GARVEE bonds. An independent investment grade Traffic and Revenue study that is essential to executing the plan of finance is now available on the project’s website.
The Authority is also moving forward with the project procurement process that will ultimately lead to awarding two contracts for design and construction of the project. The 21.9-mile Parkway is design-build, which means that project design and construction are completed simultaneously by a single team, helping to reduce construction time and avoid cost inflation. It also allows the contractor to make innovations that can save taxpayer money.
Two separate design-build contracts will be awarded for the project, one for the eastern section and one for the western section. The Garden Parkway-East contract will include a four-lane divided highway that extends from I-485 near the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Mecklenburg County to just west of Wilson Farm Road, and will also encompass toll operations for the entire project. Garden Parkway-West includes construction of a four-lane highway from just east of Wilson Farm Road to U.S. 321, and a new two-lane road with right of way to eventually expand to four lanes between U.S. 321 and I-85 west of Gastonia.
While most NCDOT projects are awarded to the lowest bidder, design-build contracts are awarded based on a two-stage evaluation process that includes developing a short list of finalists and then evaluating their proposed designs. The Authority has already shortlisted design-build teams for the Garden Parkway and last week distributed a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the East section. A copy of the RFP for Garden Parkway-East can be found on the project website at www.ncdot.gov/projects/gardenparkway/gardenparkwayeast.html. The Authority expects to distribute the RFP for Garden Parkway-West later this month.
Approval of the construction permits and final plan of finance is anticipated this summer, followed by contract award. Right-of-way acquisition is scheduled to begin later in 2012, with construction beginning mid-2013 and the project opening to traffic in 2015. Once completed, the Parkway is estimated to save drivers up to 28 minutes per trip.
For more information, visit www.ncdot.gov/projects/GardenParkway/.