Maryland unveils US’s largest highway PPP at $9bn

The state will turn to the private sector for a massive expansion of three highways to ease congestion, says governor.

Maryland governor Larry Hogan proposed last week a $9 billion toll road project that will be procured as the largest highway public-private partnership in the US.

The state will seek private sector help to design, build, finance, operate and maintain more than 100 miles of new express toll lanes on the Interstate 495 Capital Beltway, the I-270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295), Hogan said. Each highway will receive four new lanes, two in each direction, but existing lanes on each road will remain free to drivers.

“Using innovation and partnering with some of the greatest minds in the world, Maryland is going to finally get some congestion relief by investing $9 billion in three of the most congested highways in the state,” said Peter Rahn, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

For the project to move forward, Maryland first needs the federal government to hand over control of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, which is currently managed by the Department of the Interior.

The issue could serve as a litmus test for President Donald Trump’s policies on infrastructure. Trump campaigned for office vowing to revitalise US infrastructure, but has yet to produce legislation to do so. Remarks from him and his advisors suggest he plans to seek private investments to upgrade and build new projects.

Private companies will not be invited to submit bids for the project for at least six months. The state will then select a bid, award a contract and conduct environmental studies.

“These three massive, unprecedented projects to widen I-495, I-270 and MD 295 will be absolutely transformative, and they will help Maryland citizens go about their daily lives in a more efficient and safer manner,” Hogan said.