‘Ultimate’ Florida road project to be P3

A projected $2.1bn overhaul of Interstate 4 in Florida will be a public-private partnership. The Sunshine State is claiming a P3 will reduce construction time.

A multibillion dollar ‘mega-project’ to retrofit and widen Interstate 4 (I-4) in Florida can proceed as a public-private partnership (PPP; P3), according to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

The ‘I-4 Ultimate Project’ was granted P3 status by Governor Rick Scott and the state legislature. Under Florida law, a P3 has to be approved by the governor, and is subject to a two-week legislative consultation and notification period.

In announcing his decision to approve the project as a P3 Scott, a Republican elected in 2011, cited the need to “relieve congestion” on I-4, while FDOT insisted that “traditional pay-as-you-go” procurement would prevent construction from being completed before 2040.

“Our goal is to have financial close on the project by the summer of 2014 with construction beginning later that year,” said Anath Prasad, FDOT secretary.

Prasad called the $2.1 billion I-4 Ultimate Project the “largest” P3 ever for his department. FDOT maintained that using a P3 would let the project be delivered in a “five-to-six” year period.

FDOT is hosting an industry forum in Orlando on Monday, March 4, to get “private sector feedback,” it said.

The project was conceived to replace a 21-mile stretch of ageing I-4 from Orlando to Seminole County in Central Florida. The 132-mile Interstate 4 was the first interstate highway in the Sunshine State, and was opened in 1959.

The project would also expand and toll I-4.  In 2011, FDOT began exploring how to fund the project, which is estimated to cost about $2 billion. Florida has set aside $857 million for the I-4.