Ruggerio bill would allow for innovative public-private partnerships in construction projects


STATE HOUSE, Providence – President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio has introduced legislation that would allow for innovative public-private partnerships in construction projects. Modeled after Massachusetts law, the bill would create an open and transparent process for accepting bids through such partnerships, often referred to as P3s. A seven-member oversight commission would work with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) to enter into contracts that are most advantageous to the state.


The legislation does not allow for new tolling, which would remain expressly prohibited under Rhode Island General Law § 42-13.1-5.


“P3s would provide an option for attracting innovative, high-quality projects,” said President Ruggerio. “Other jurisdictions across the country have utilized the P3 model with success. Assembly Square in Somerville, Massachusetts, is one example of the kind of state-of-the-art development that can be generated through public-private partnerships.”


He continued, “P3s are a tool for innovation that is presently unavailable in Rhode Island. Our current process relies on the lowest bidder, which in most cases is appropriate; but if we want to spur innovative proposals, then we need economic development tools such as P3s in our toolbox.”


The advantages of P3s can include higher quality and longer implied warranties, optimized lifecycles, easier and less costly maintenance, and greater overall value.


The legislation, S-904, would establish a seven-member oversight commission to report on matters related to any requests for proposals (RFP) and P3 contracts, including but not limited to:


  • Policy and regulatory structure for overseeing and ongoing legislative oversight;
  • Responsibilities of the private partner and RIDOT;
  • Issues of public concern; and
  • Advantages of entering into this type of agreement;


RIDOT and the commission together would solicit proposals and enter into a contract that is most advantageous to the state. The bill outlines a competitive sealed proposals procurement approach which includes the payment of prevailing wage to all who work on the project and public notice posted on the Secretary of State’s website and RIDOT’s website for at least three weeks prior to the deadline of submission.


Bids must include the bidder’s compliance with design requirements; qualifications; financial capacity; project schedule; and lowest user charges or price. If the project is over $10 million or longer than 5 years in duration, or if RIDOT requires, each bidder must identify an independent peer reviewer whose competence and qualification to provide services will be an additional factor in evaluating the bid.


The commission must issue a report within 30 days of its approval of an RFP to the Administration, House and Senate.


All rights, title and interest reverts to the RIDOT at the conclusion of the project agreement.


The legislation is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey, Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo, Senate Housing & Municipal Government Committee Chairman Frank Lombardo, III, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ryan W. Pearson. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Special Legislation & Veterans Affairs.


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