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Toll Bridge Raises the Bar in P3 Financing

For travelers passing through the congested Louisville area from the north or south, an alternate route bypassing the congested downtown traffic had become a critical need. The city's residents craved a more convenient thruway while commuting between Louisville, Kentucky and eastern Jefferson County and southern Indiana.

The Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) turned to Nossaman for advice on designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining a proposed six-lane toll bridge across the Ohio River.  The result is one of the largest transportation undertakings in the U.S., an award-winning deal with a pioneering public-private partnership (P3) approach to project delivery and financing.

The $1.18 billion East End Crossing (now known as Lewis and Clark Bridge) is one of two bridges comprising the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges project.  It is the first availability payment P3 for IFA.  Notably, it was completed on an "aggressive" schedule and set a record pace of 12 months from issuance of the RFQ to commercial close.

The project features a number of deal-related "firsts," including achieving "flat" investment grade ratings (BBB) from S&P and Fitch, not using TIFIA funds in its capital structure (at time of close), and securing, and then issuing, the largest Private Activity Bond issue for a U.S. P3 transport deal.  

Highly competitive bids from four prospective developers reduced proposed costs by 23% from estimates and shaved nine months off the project's original P3 construction schedule.  East End Crossing attracted new domestic and international entrants to the U.S. P3 market.  The project was completed in December 2016.  

The industry has recognized the unique aspects and success of the project with numerous awards.  In 2013, The Bond Buyer named it “Deal of the Year” – a first for a P3 transaction; The American Road and Transportation Builders Association honored it as “P3 Project of the Year;” Project Finance International selected it as “Americas Transportation Deal of the Year;  Project Finance magazine highlighted it as “North American Project Bond Deal of the Year;” Partnerships Bulletin awarded it "Projects Grand Prize” and “Gold Prize” for best P3 road project; and Infrastructure Journal named it a finalist for “Transport Deal of the Year.”  In 2014, P3 Bulletin International named East End "Best Global Road Project" and "Best Global Infrastructure Project," and in 2015 the International Road Federation honored it with the "Global Road Achievement Award for Project Finance and Economics."

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