US$ 3 billion projects approved in Virginia

By Helen Wright07 December 2011

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has signed contracts for road-building and tunnel construction projects in the US state worth over US$ 3 billion.

The largest, worth US$ 2.1 billion, was signed with the Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) consortium - a joint venture between Skanska Infrastructure Development and Macquarie Group.

It will build a new Midtown Tunnel and rehabilitate the existing Midtown Tunnel, which crosses the main channel of the Elizabeth River in the South Hampton Roads area of Virginia, linking the cities of Portsmouth and Norfolk.

In addition, ERC will rehabilitate the Downtown Tunnel, which also crosses the Elizabeth River, as well as extend the Martin Luther King Freeway between Portsmouth and Norfolk. VDOT will maintain ownership of the infrastructure while ERC will finance, build, operate and maintain the toll-paying facilities for a 58-year concession period.

The public-private contract includes a US$ 362 million from the VDOT, while the ERC joint venture will provide around US$ 1.3 billion in cash, together with US$ 422 million Transport Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan from the US government.

Meanwhile, the VDOT has also signed a preliminary agreement with the Fluor-Transurban joint venture - a partnership between contractors Fluor and toll road developer Transurban - to build the I-95 toll road in Northern Virginia.

The US$ 940 million project would be financed using US$ 843 million from Fluor-Transurban, while the state would contribute US$ 97 million.

The project will expand the existing I-95 to create 29 miles (47 km) of new toll lanes between Edsall Road in Fairfax County and Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. Fluor-Transurban's contract would give it the right to operate and maintain the road for 73 years.

Construction for both projects is scheduled to start in 2012.

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