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The Washington Post

Montgomery choose closes listening to in I-270, Beltway toll lanes bid protest


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A Montgomery County choose closed a listening to Tuesday regarding a bid protest over one in all Maryland’s largest freeway tasks, after attorneys for the state and profitable firms mentioned opening the listening to to the media and public might disclose confidential info.

The protest by a losing bidder considerations the primary contract the state awarded final 12 months in a challenge doubtlessly value billions of {dollars} to widen Interstate 270 and a part of the Capital Beltway with toll lanes.

Attorneys for each the Maryland Division of Transportation and the profitable bidder, a crew of firms led by Australian toll road operator Transurban, requested that the listening to be closed and its transcript sealed to stop the opportunity of proprietary bid particulars being mentioned publicly.

“The state is definitely in favor of transparency but in addition doesn’t wish to run the danger of by accident disclosing the confidential info of any of those proposers,” mentioned Lydia Hoover, an assistant legal professional common representing MDOT.

Maryland contract delayed in blow to Hogan’s traffic-relief plan

Circuit Courtroom Choose Kevin G. Hessler mentioned Maryland legislation allowed him to weigh the necessity for public entry towards the state’s and corporations’ must preserve aggressive enterprise info confidential.

“I’m definitely conscious of the truth that there is a crucial public curiosity in transparency in regard to proceedings of this significance,” Hessler mentioned.

Nonetheless, the choose mentioned he would shut the listening to and seal the transcript to “stability that towards the necessity for confidentiality with regard to proprietary and industrial info.”

The bid protest considerations a “predevelopment settlement” during which the Transurban crew dedicated to design the lanes at its personal expense. Profitable that first contract was most important, nevertheless, as a result of it additionally gave the Transurban crew the precise of first refusal on a 50-year contract — anticipated to be value billions of {dollars} — to construct and function the lanes. The winner of the long-term contract additionally would finance building in alternate for holding many of the toll income as a part of a public-private partnership.

Maryland appeals court hears arguments in toll lanes bid protest

A dropping bid crew, led by Spanish agency Cintra, has argued the state improperly awarded the primary contract as a result of the Transurban crew lacked a building contractor on the time and had “gamed” the choice course of by assuming unrealistically low building prices. MDOT has countered that the bid protest was filed too late and that the state’s choice course of was correct beneath the challenge’s procurement guidelines.

MDOT announced last week it’ll maintain off on looking for approval of a 50-year contract till this spring. State officers mentioned they wanted to present the Transurban crew extra time to submit a long-term contract proposal as a result of the challenge’s federal environmental approval, which is required to design the lanes, was delayed by 10 months. The delay was a political blow to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who leaves workplace in January and has made the toll lanes plan his signature traffic-relief proposal.

A Washington Put up reporter within the courtroom requested that the choose enable the information group time to seek the advice of with a lawyer earlier than he closed the listening to, however the choose mentioned the case wanted to proceed, noting the eight attorneys current and “able to go.”

Opponents sue over Maryland plan to add toll lanes to I-270, Beltway

It’s unclear when the choose will challenge a choice, however both aspect is predicted to attraction an unfavorable ruling. The state’s Courtroom of Particular Appeals is already considering whether or not the Cintra crew filed its bid protest in time.

The challenge additionally faces a federal environmental lawsuit filed by opponents.

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