Nossaman LLP

John P. Smolen

Associate

T 202.887.1466
F 202.466.3215
1666 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006

John Smolen focuses his practice on project development, procurement, administration and finance of design-build and public-private partnership (PPP) highway and transit projects.  He contributes his experience as project administration counsel to projects under development and to resolution of client issues involving construction technology and finance.

He has played a significant role in advising the Firm's "coal synergy" projects in Virginia, where heavy industry and mining companies use their equipment and skills to build road as part of their mining operations (and offset construction costs by sharing in mineral sale proceeds and avoided excavation costs).

Mr. Smolen also offers experience with engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) project delivery strategies within the energy and emerging technology industries, having led (at another firm) project developments and served as project counsel for wind, solar, geothermal and waste-to-energy energy projects.  He has helped private clients commercialize energy-related technology.

He speaks to industry organizations on the use of PPP projects to finance and deliver high-priority, complex transportation infrastructure projects.  He contributes his insights on emerging PPP developments to the Firm's Infra Insight blog.

In law school, Mr. Smolen was editor-in-chief of the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy.  Before law school, he served in the U.S. Navy as an officer, an aviator, a flight instructor and a Naval ROTC instructor.

Representative Work

  • Virginia Department of Transportation – Coalfields Expressway.  Member of Nossaman team advising on the continued development of an eight section, four-lane highway.  The "Corridor Q" project in Southwest Virginia is part of the larger, Johnson-era Appalachian Development Highway System.  Mr. Smolen's role includes preparing the procurement documents and participating actively in contract negotiations with the project's two concessionaires.  The project will leverage the innovative "coal synergy" methodology, whereby the design-builder will utilize mine tailings to mitigate the need for off-site fill material, saving the Commonwealth considerable costs.
  • Virginia Department of Transportation – U.S. 460 Corridor – Phase II.  Member of Nossaman team advising on the Phase II development of a rough-grade roadbed for the broader US 460 corridor project, also a coal synergy "Corridor Q" project and part of the Appalachian Development Highway System.  Mr. Smolen's role included preparing the sole-source procurement documents and updating VDOT's design-build contract templates.  The contract was executed in early July 2013.
  • Maryland Transit Administration and Maryland Department of Transportation – Purple Line Light Rail.  Member of the Nossaman legal team advising MTA/MDOT on the state's first PPP project under legislation passed in 2013.  The proposed $2.2 billion Purple Line light rail system will run 16.2 miles in the Washington, D.C., suburbs between Bethesda and New Carrollton, with 21 new stations along the route.  Initial tasks included assistance with the enabling legislation allowing the use of PPPs to finance, develop and operate transportation projects, drafting the request for qualifications and developing draft documents for industry review.  Mr. Smolen is assisting in the development of procurement and contract documents for the project.  In July 2014, MTA issued the final RFP for a 30-year concession to the shortlisted teams.  Construction is slated to start in 2015; trains will begin running in 2020.
  • Indiana Finance Authority – Ohio River Bridges Project, East End Crossing.  Member of the Nossaman team advising on the PPP procurement to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the East End Crossing portion of the bi-state Ohio River Bridges project, connecting Kentucky to Indiana. The East End Crossing was Indiana's first PPP, and was structured as an availability payment concession.  The $800 million (capital cost) project includes: a new six lane East End Bridge that crosses the Ohio River, a lengthy tunnel and approaches on both sides of the Ohio River.  Mr. Smolen's role includes assisting with drafting and finalizing the RFP documents, developing and implementing the evaluation process negotiating the public-private agreement, negotiating and closing the public-private agreement and financing, and ongoing project management, administration and implementation counsel. Commercial close was achieved on December 27, 2012 and financial close occurred on March 28, 2013.

    The project was named "Best Global Road Project" and "Best Global Infrastructure Project" from PPP Bulletin International in 2014 , The Bond Buyer's 2013 "Deal of the Year," "2013 Project of the Year" by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, "Americas Transportation Deal of the Year" by Project Finance International, and "North American Project Bond Deal of the Year" by Project Finance Magazine. The project was also a finalist for the 2013 Infrastructure Journal "Transport Deal of the Year."

  • Indiana Finance Authority – I-69 Section 5 Project.  Member of the Nossaman team advising on the PPP procurement to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the I-69 Section 5 Project.  It is Indiana's second PPP, also an availability payment concession.  The approximately $325 million (capital cost) project will upgrade approximately 21 miles of existing Indiana State Route 37 between and through Bloomington, Indiana, and Martinsville, Indiana, to federal interstate.  Mr. Smolen's role included assisting with drafting and finalizing the RFP documents, developing and implementing the evaluation process negotiating the public-private agreement and negotiating and closing the public-private agreement. Commercial close was achieved on April 8, 2014, with financial close in July 2014.    
  • North Carolina Department of Transportation – I-77 HOT Lanes Project.  Member of the Nossaman team assisting with the structuring and administration of a procurement of a toll concession PPP for a $600 million managed lanes project near Charlotte, North Carolina.  Mr. Smolen's role includes supporting the qualification submissions evaluation process and the drafting of the procurement documents.
  • Private Sector Heavy Industry Client.  At another firm, lead counsel to a private sector client in development of an EPC project to design and build a commercial scale processing facility.  Role included preparing and negotiating the EPC contract, contract administration and dispute resolution assistance and follow-on development of other proprietary technology commercialization opportunities.
  • Private Sector Renewable Energy Project Developer.  At another firm, lead associate to early-stage development client in renewable energy power producing facilities in the mountain states and Hawaii.  Role included extensive corporate and finance representation, real property negotiations and drafting, extensive interface with local counsel regarding permitting and real property matters, mergers and acquisitions and other general counseling matters.
  • Private Sector Wind Energy Project Owner.  At another firm, lead associate on a portfolio of joint project development efforts for renewable energy projects throughout the Midwest, representing the Owner in project development and construction matters.  Role included developing, drafting and negotiating several EPC and other construction contracts, real property matters and preparations for portfolio capital markets financings.

Awards & Honors

Named a Washington DC "Super Lawyers" Rising Star in the area of Transportation/Maritime by Washington Lawyer magazine, 2014
Bio Photo
Bio Photo

Practices

Education

J.D., University of Kansas School of Law, 2007

M.A., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2004

B.S., United States Naval Academy, 1995, with merit

Admissions

District of Columbia

Kansas

Maryland

United States Supreme Court

Professional Affiliations

Kansas Bar Association

Maryland State Bar Association

American Bar Association

Awards & Honors

Named a Washington DC "Super Lawyers" Rising Star in the area of Transportation/Maritime by Washington Lawyer magazine, 2014
     
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