Virginia’s Governor, Robert F McDonnell, has announced that the state has made a formal agreement with its private partners to build the 46.7km (29 miles) of High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes along Interstate 95. The agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for the financing, design-build, operation and maintenance of the US$925 million project has been made with 95 Express Lanes LLC, which is a joint venture between Transurban DRIVe and Fluor Enterprises Inc. VDOT will provide US$71 million in public funds, while 95 Express LLC will provide US$854 million in funding, including a US$300 million federal government loan under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). The construction of the new lanes will start later this month and is due to be completed by 2014.
The agreement is similar to the one already in place with the same parties to build the four new HOT lanes on the I-495 Capital Beltway, which are scheduled to open by the end of this year, and will eventually link up with the HOT lanes on I-95. The I-95 project will expand and improve the existing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in one of the most congested regional corridors in the USA. The HOT lanes, which will be known as the I-95 Express Lanes, will operate the same way as the new Beltway lanes. They will be toll free for vehicles with three or more people aboard, and for motorcycles, with vehicles that do not meet the HOV requirements able pay a variable toll. Drivers will need an E-ZPass transponder to use the lanes, with carpoolers requiring the new ‘switchable’ E-ZPass Flex transponder that has just became available in anticipation of the 495 Express Lanes opening.
Toll system delivery and operations will be managed by Transurban and will be co-located with the 495 Express Lanes operations center. The 95 Express Lanes will use the same systems and technology developed for the 495 Express Lanes, which will provide a continuous, seamless facility for travelers in Northern Virginia. Transurban’s president for North America, Michael Kulper, said, “The 95 Express Lanes represent our second major investment in the Express Lanes business in the heavily congested Northern Virginia region. The 95 Express Lanes are expected to provide faster, more predictable travel for local users and provide our security holders with an attractive financial return. Virginia, through the work of its transportation agency, VDOT, has again demonstrated its leadership in using public-private partnerships to help meet major transportation needs.”
2 August 2012
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