The Virginia Department of Transportation announced last week that it’s shelving discussions that would invite private investment into part of its highway system.

“I have directed VDOT to terminate all activities related to the [Public Private Transportation Act] procurement of improvements along the I-81 corridor,” said VDOT commissioner David Ekern in a statement.

The commonwealth had been in talks with former Halliburton Inc. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root to use private investment to fund improvements to a portion of the state’s highway system.

But a Dec. 18 request from KBR that it did not wish to pursue the project led to VDOT’s decision to terminate all debate regarding the project. In 2007, KBR separated from Halliburton to become its own publicly traded company, and said in its withdrawal request that it needed to “manage its business profile very carefully.”

The proposed plan would have established a truck-specific toll for the 325-mile stretch of highway, which earned criticism from the trucking community. The state had been in talks regarding the highway since February 2004.

Despite the dissolution, commonwealth officials say they are committed to the improvement of the interstate.

“While we continue to look to long-term plans for the future of I-81, at this time we have elected to focus our resources to complete more than $730 million of I-81 projects that are currently included in VDOT’s six-year improvement program,” Ekern said. “This change does not slow down the planned safety improvements on I-81, it will just change the method through which we deliver these projects.”


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