Three bidders vie for $2bn PPP in Virginia

Teams that include Cintra, Skanska and Keiwit Construction, among others, submitted preliminary proposals to develop the state’s Route 460. The procurement marks Virginia’s second attempt at getting the private sector involved in the project. An earlier attempt was sidetracked by the financial crisis.

Three teams of private investors have submitted preliminary proposals to Virginia to develop its Route 460 corridor, a 55-mile highway project that could cost up to $2 billion.

Route 460: on
the way to PPPs

The proposers were Cintra Infraestructuras, a team comprised of Spanish toll road developer Cintra and four other engineering and consulting firms; 460 Partners, which includes engineering firm Skanska, operations and maintenance provider Transfield Services, among others; and Multimodal Solutions, a team that includes Keiwit Construction, Italian toll road concessionaire Autostrade and Barclays Capital, among others.

For Cintra and Skanska, the submissions mark a second attempt at the project, which originally began procurement in 2006 but was terminated by the Virginia Department of Transportation “due to changes in market conditions”. Back then, Cintra, Spanish toll road operator Itinere and a team of Skanska and Macquarie submitted proposals.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said the project remains a high priority for the commonwealth. The road, which connects the cities of Petersburg and Suffolk in the state’s southwest, serves as a major emergency and hurricane evacuation route, the department said in a statement. It is also important for military movement and freight shipping.

The project will involve building a new, 55-mile, divided toll road south of the existing road between the two cities. The new road will be financed by the private developer, which will get repaid for the investment via a long-term concession on the toll road. No federal or state funding is being planned for the development or the operation of the project, according to the Route 460 website.

The project is being procured as a public-private partnership under the state’s 15 year-old Public-Private Transportation Act. The next step in that process is the evaluation of the proposals to make sure they meet the act’s guidelines.

Virginia has up to 30 days to conduct the review, after which it will announce which proposals it has accepted for the next step of the procurement and post them on its website.

Virginia’s preliminary cost estimate for the project is between $1.5 billion to $2 billion.