DALLAS — Virginia’s Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships received recommendations from 19 firms in its quest to add additional capacity to a congested interstate highway.
The state asked the private sector to provide input on innovative and creative solutions to reduce congestion on the heavily traveled 25-mile I-66 segment between U.S. Route 15 at Haymarket in Prince William County and I-495, the capital beltway, in Fairfax County.
OTP3 issued the request in late June for the best ways to develop and finance the project in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Transportation and the state’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
“The request is part of the Commonwealth’s plan to transform I-66 from a highly congested corridor to a multi-modal transportation facility that moves traffic and people more efficiently,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said Wednesday.
Funding could include revenue from tolled express lanes that are now designated as high occupancy vehicle lanes.
The proposed capacity expansion would also include a widened road with additional free lanes and express bus lanes in the median.
Untangling the congestion on I-66 has one of his top priorities, said McDonnell, who will be succeeded on Jan. 11 by Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe.
“I-66 drivers sit in frustrating stop-and-go traffic on a daily basis with unpredictable travel times and few alternate options,” McDonnell said.
Up to two-thirds of the corridor is congested during peak morning and evening rush hours, VDOT said, with peak period congestion expected to increase to eight to 10 hours a day by 2040 in the eastern portion near Washington.
“The goal is to make I-66 an efficient and dynamic transportation facility so that motorists and commuters save time and money, while cutting down on the stress and cost of waiting in traffic,” McDonnell said.
The information will help Virginia further develop the I-66 project, McDonnell said, which may result in a formal procurement of a contract through the Public-Private Transportation Act.
The proposed timeline calls for a request for qualifications going out in March 2014, with a short list of potential partners by May.
A request for proposals may be issued as early as February 2015, with the deal closing that summer.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board is expected to advance the I-66 plan to the second level of environmental review early next year. The first level was approved by the Federal Highway Administration in November.