Blue-chip international firms respond to I-66 RFQ

Marquee names have expressed interest in participating in the delivery of Virginia’s I-66 road project should the state decide to proceed with a DBFOM model.

The procurement process for Interstate 66 (I-66) has picked up speed with a number of high-profile infrastructure investors and developers responding to part 1 of the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) Virginia’s department of transportation VDOT released in mid-September.

Three teams have submitted Statements of Qualifications (SOQs) to design, build, finance, operate and maintain 25 miles of the state’s I-66 corridor, a $2.1 billion road project also known as Transform66 – Outside the Beltway (as opposed to the Transform66 – Inside the Beltway project), according to Virginia’s Office of Public-Private Partnerships’ website.

The three consortia are: Express Partners, teaming Transurban with Skanska; I-66 Express Mobility Partners, with Cintra and Meridiam participating as equal private equity partners; and Transformative Solution Partners, comprising InfraRed, Isolux and Fluor.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board decided in August that the project should be procured under the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA), but it is currently considering three delivery methods:

– A toll road revenue concession of up to 50 years (DBFOM);
– A design-build-operate-maintain (DBOM) model where 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 for up to 15 years; or
– A design-build-alternative technical concepts (DB-ATC) scheme where the state would finance the project, collect toll revenues as well as operate and maintain the project. The private sector would take the risk in designing and building the project but would also be able to come up with engineering savings during the bidding process, something that is not currently possible under a typical design-build model.

An additional five teams have submitted SOQs for the two delivery methods not requiring private financing.

VDOT expects to announce the shortlisted teams responding to part 1 of the RFQ by October 15. Those teams will then be invited to respond to part 2 of the RFQ by submitting financial proposals for each delivery method for which they would like to be considered.

The state agency expects to make a final decision on how the I-66 project will be financed and procured by the end of this year, a VDOT spokesperson told Infrastructure Investor.

The Transform 66 – Outside the Beltway project entails improving 25 miles of the interstate corridor by adding two express lanes along three regular lanes in each direction, with space made available for transit options to be added in the future; park and ride facilities; and corridor-wide bike, trail and pedestrian improvements.

Construction is slated to begin in 2017 and improvements expected to be completed by 2021.