IN THE NEWS: 7 ways IN GOP bungled I-69 project

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Republicans’ incompetent handling of the privatization of I-69 construction has been a disaster in slow motion. It’s bordering on negligent. It’s dangerous and it’s going to cost Hoosier taxpayers. Here are seven warning signs Republicans either missed or ignored.

1.)    Indiana officials selected a public-private partner with ZERO road building experience in the United States

From the Indianapolis Star: Mike Pence’s infrastructure mess: What went wrong with I-69?

“Isolux had little prior experience in the U.S., and no experience building roads and bridges in the U.S.”

2.)    State officials selected a public-private partner that significantly underbid builders with experience constructing US infrastructure projects

From the Indianapolis Star: Mike Pence’s infrastructure mess: What went wrong with I-69?

“The group bid $325 million — about $73 million less than the closest competing bid and $22 million less than the state’s own cost estimate. The other three bid finalists fell within $23 million of each other, and had large portfolios of work throughout the country.”

3.)    Just a year after awarding the I-69 project, Bloomberg dubbed the state’s private partner “the riskiest company in the world”

From the Indianapolis Star: Mike Pence’s infrastructure mess: What went wrong with I-69?

“The financial health of Isolux deteriorated quickly after the consortium was formed. By November 2015, it was “the riskiest company in the world,” based on a Bloomberg analysis.”

4.)    Isolux company officials, Indiana’s lead private partner, were charged with embezzlement in a seperate case three weeks after the company was awarded the I-69 project and BEFORE bonds were floated

From the Indianapolis Star: Mike Pence’s infrastructure mess: What went wrong with I-69?

“A mere three weeks after the contract was finalized, before bonds were floated to finance the work, nine company and public officials in Spain were arrested on embezzlement charges. The allegation? They had profited illegally from a bribery scheme related to a high-speed rail project built by Isolux, a scandal that’s still unfolding in Spain.”

5.)    Isolux is battling insolvency

From the Indianapolis Star: Mike Pence’s infrastructure mess: What went wrong with I-69?

“Within the past two years, Isolux has been replaced on jobs in Brazil, Bolivia and Chile. The company is near insolvency. The bonds it used to finance I-69 construction, to use the industry’s term, are ‘junk.’ [emphasis added]”

6.)    Even before the project began, subcontractors left as a result of mismanagement

From the Indianapolis Star: Mike Pence’s infrastructure mess: What went wrong with I-69?

“After winning the bid, Isolux asked one major subcontractor, Gradex of Carmel, to lower its negotiated price to remain part of the consortium. The company refused, and had to be replaced.”

7.)    The public-private partnership between Indiana and Isolux hired a state employee to lead the project who may or may not have skirted ethics rules to take the job

From the Indianapolis Star: Mike Pence’s infrastructure mess: What went wrong with I-69?

“By then, I-69 Development Partners made a hire that might surprise proponents of P3s who extol the virtues of private sector expertise. Gary Vandegriff moved from highway maintenance director at the Indiana Department of Transportation to project manager for I-69 Development Partners. State law requires a one-year cooling-off period before a state employee can move to a private position related to his or her state employment. Vandegriff made the move within a week of leaving INDOT. But both state officials and Vandegriff, who has since moved to another company, declined to say whether he sought an ethics opinion before the move.”

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