On July 20, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Elizabeth River Crossings LLC (ERC) have agreed on the major business points for the Downtown Tunnel/Midtown Tunnel/Martin Luther King Extension Project connecting Norfolk and Portsmouth. Agreement on the major business points of the transaction paves the way for VDOT and ERC to finalize the detailed terms of the comprehensive agreement and the financing package for this $1.9 billion project. VDOT and ERC expect to sign the comprehensive agreement and achieve financial close by the end of 2011.
The Hampton Roads Chamber supported Elizabeth River Crossing’s efforts to secure a TIFIA loan from the federal government. This source of funding was significant because it will ultimately have a positive impact on the toll charged for crossing the Elizabeth River into Norfolk and Portsmouth. Chamber staff assisted in securing letters of support and participants who appeared in a video produced to assist in the lobbying effort. In addition, the Chamber directly lobbied elected officials to support the request.
“The construction of the Downtown Tunnel/Midtown Tunnel/MLK Extension project will bring needed improvements to the transportation infrastructure of Hampton Roads, which will connect citizens with their jobs, families and activities. It will also provide easier access to our military bases and the Port of Virginia that will increase security and commerce in the region,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. “This critical improvement is long overdue. The innovative public-private agreement will advance this project years before the Commonwealth could afford to complete the work on its own.”
The major business points of the transaction were presented to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) today, Wednesday, July 20, at its meeting in Richmond.
Key aspects of the transaction require ERC to:
“We are pleased that, through our partnership with VDOT, ERC will be one step closer to helping deliver a project that will vastly improve the region’s transportation network,” said Christopher Voyce, Executive Director of Macquarie Capital and Co-Developer of Elizabeth River Crossings, LLC.
Karl Reichelt, Executive Vice President of Skanska Infrastructure Development, co-developer as part of Elizabeth River Crossings LLC, added. “A significant milestone is achieved with this week’s agreement, and our focus going forward is to build upon the partnership with VDOT to deliver this critical project to the region and the Commonwealth.”
In the agreement, the Commonwealth of Virginia will retain ownership and oversight of the project and provide $395 million in financial support for the construction of the facilities.
“The formation of the Office of Public Private Partnerships (OTP3) has allowed the Commonwealth to focus its resources on the development of the Downtown Tunnel/Midtown Tunnel/MLK Extension project,” said Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton. “After this project comes to financial close, we will turn that focus to the I-95 HOV/HOT Lanes, the new Route 460 and segments of Route 58 and the Coalfields Expressway.”
“The department will now have a long-term relationship with our private partners, Elizabeth River Crossings, to design, construct, operate, maintain and finance both existing and new infrastructure in Norfolk and Portsmouth,” said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley.
“This agreement sends a powerful message to those wanting to invest in the Commonwealth that Virginia is open for business,” said Governor McDonnell. “I want to commend the General Assembly for its bipartisan support of our transportation funding legislation which made this agreement possible, as well as being invited to apply for a TIFIA loan provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. I want to thank the excellent OTP3 team and VDOT personnel who worked so hard on this agreement.”
The presentation is available on the CTB website www.ctb.virginia.gov/. For more information about the Downtown/Midtown/MLK project, visit www.midtowntunnel.org. For more on the Commonwealth’s PPTA program, visit www.vappta.org/.