On February 13, 2006, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (“BART”) issued an advanced notice of a Request for Qualifications for the design, build, finance, operation and maintenance of a three-mile connector railway between the existing Coliseum BART station to the Oakland International Airport.
This $230 Million project was originally sent out for bid as a design-build project pursuant to California Public Contract Code §§ 20209.5 et seq. However, due to the ongoing economic climate, the available public funds were not sufficient to cover the capital costs of constructing the project. As a result, BART has elected to utilize private sector funding to augment the existing public funding sources pursuant the Infrastructure Financing Act (“IFA”) (California Government Code Sections 5956 – 5956.10).
The IFA permits local government agencies to utilize private sector investment capital to study, plan, design, construct, develop, finance, maintain, rebuild, improve, repair, or operate most fee producing infrastructure facilities. The private entity in turn is entitled to the revenues produced to by the facility for a period of up to 35 years.
While the IFA was enacted in 1996, it has been underutilized by local agencies. However, given the current state budget issues its use has become much more attractive. The Oakland Airport Connector should be followed very closely as its success or failure may serve bell weather for the continued use of the IFA.