BRADENTON, Fla. — The Georgia Transportation Board has agreed to a financing methodology for the nearly $1 billion Northwest Corridor project that could see more than half of the cost funded with bonds.
The 30-mile, managed-lane project, which will provide congestion relief for the Atlanta region, will be funded with a combination of state and federal motor fuel sales taxes, bonds backed by tolls and federal grant revenues, a low-interest federal loan, and equity from the private partner chosen to design and build the project.
The State Road and Tollway Authority will be asked to issue up to $385 million of toll bonds and $125 million of Garvee bonds, according to a resolution approved by the Transportation Board Thursday.
The resolution outlining the plan of finance and the bond amounts must still be approved by SRTA. It will be considered by the agency Oct. 4.
The Georgia Department of Transportation will dedicate up to $536 million from state and federal motor fuel sales taxes to the project.
GDOT has also applied for a $270 million low-interest Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act federal loan, though there is no guarantee that the state will receive the full amount.
The developer selected to design and build the project will be asked to provide as much as $160 million in gap financing, which the state will repay.
Under the board's approved funding plan, the bonds and federal loan would be paid by tolls collected by SRTA from drivers.
The Northwest Corridor, which the state is calling its first public-private partnership, will add managed lanes along Interstate 75 and 575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties.
The lanes will be separated from the existing interstate and be reversible in order to allow only southbound traffic during morning commuting hours and northbound in the evenings.
Drivers will pay a variable-rate toll based on traffic volume to access the lanes.
GDOT said it expects in December to ask four qualified companies or consortiums to submit design-build proposals for the project.
Proposals will be sought from C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. and the Michael Baker Corp., Fluor-Lane LLC, Georgia Transportation Partners comprised of Bechtel Infrastructure Corp., Kiewit Infrastructure South Co., Dewberry and Davis LLC, and STV Inc., and Northwest Express Road Builders, which consists of Archer Western Contractors, Hubbard Group, and Parsons Corp.
The contractor responding with the proposal offering the "best value" is expected to be selected by July.
Work on the long-planned project is expected to begin in mid-2014 with opening anticipated in the spring of 2018.