Harrisburg, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Office issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking private-sector feedback on wetland mitigation banking, which offsets environmental impacts from construction or development projects. The RFI is accessible at www.P3forPA.pa.gov and input is being accepted through March 13.
“Part of our mission in managing our transportation system is ensuring that we’re using sustainable solutions,” PennDOT Secretary and P3 Board Chair Leslie S. Richards said. “Wetland mitigation banks are a tool that we’d like to use more and our partners in the private sector will have valuable input in how we can pursue this goal.”
PennDOT is requesting industry feedback from individuals, firms, teams or organizations related to development, design, construction, implementation, maintenance, operation and commercialization of wetland mitigation banking for crediting against unavoidable aquatic resource impacts in projects. The information gathered through the RFI could help develop a statewide or regional P3 project addressing innovative and efficient solutions in wetland mitigation banking.
This initiative is separate from the department’s existing P3 project announced in July 2017. That project includes a proposed wetland mitigation bank on a PennDOT-owned, 140-acre site in Chalfont, Bucks County, which would be developed so PennDOT and private developers can meet federal environmental requirements by applying for credits to offset environmental impacts on projects. A private entity would be selected to design, build, finance and maintain the site, streamlining the environmental review process as well as project timelines compared to establishing separate sites for each applicable project.
Once established, the department anticipates it would use up to half of the credits provided through the wetland bank for projects in its King of Prussia- and Allentown-based engineering districts. The remaining credits would be periodically released by the private partner, generating revenue from private-sector developers needing to offset environmental impacts.
For the project currently underway, the department estimates that it will advertise a request for qualifications in June, select shortlisted firms to proceed to request for proposals stage in October, issue a request for proposals in November and select a preferred proposer in February 2019. In taking a phased approach to site development, the short-term goal would be to have portions of the site ready to provide wetland credits in two to three years from proposer selection.
Statewide, PennDOT has 22 existing wetland mitigation banks covering 184 acres.
The Public-Private Transportation Partnerships Act was signed into law in September 2012 and authorized P3 projects in Pennsylvania. This law allows PennDOT and other transportation authorities and commissions to partner with private companies to participate in delivering, maintaining and financing transportation-related projects.