An independent committee has given the go-ahead for further exploration of both private and public finance options for the project.
A public-private partnership (P3) is seen as the most likely route but the state is keeping its funding options open and may decide on public finance.
Virginia will explore procuring the I-66 Outside the Beltway project under its public-private partnership programme. This allows private-sector teams to submit their qualifications, including how they would take on the risk of delivering the project. Their information will be compared to publicly-financed procurement before a decision is taken on which to adopt.
Transportation secretary Aubrey Layne said: “All options are on the table. We're levelling the playing field, opening the gates to competition. We'll go with the right option that is in the public's best interest. That option will likely be a P3, regardless of whether the project is publicly or privately financed.”
The committee recommended that three P3 options that should be considered:
- a toll revenue concession in which the state would make a public contribution, but the private entity would take the risk in financing, designing, building, operating and maintaining the project;
- a design-build-operate-maintain project in which the state would finance the project and collect the toll revenues, but the private sector would take the risk in designing, building, operating and maintaining the project;
- a design-build-alternative technical concepts project. The state would finance the project, collect toll revenues as well as operate and maintain the project while the private sector would take the risk in designing and building the project and be able to come up with engineering savings during the bidding process, which cannot be done currently under a typical design-build project there.
Once the state reviews the information from the request for qualifications, it will determine if there is enough benefit to move forward before issuing a request for proposals, which will go into more detail on what the private sector could offer.
Meanwhile, it will continue to move ahead with the public option. A final decision on how the I-66 project will be financed is expected by end of this year.