USDOT allocates $209m to Ohio transport P3

The Portsmouth Bypass project, the largest-ever to be undertaken by Ohio's Department of Transportation, is also the state's first infrastructure P3.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx yesterday announced the approval of a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan of up to $209.3 million to finance the development of the Portsmouth Bypass public-private partnership (PPP; P3) project in Ohio. 

The project, which has been under development since 2012, is locally known as the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway, or State Route 823. 

“This is an important project that will not only improve highway safety, but represents an important partnership between the public and private sector to advance our overall investment in this nation's infrastructure,” Foxx said. “The Portsmouth Bypass will benefit the entire community by reducing the number of trucks in the city and opening up the area for economic development.”

The bypass is the largest single construction project ever undertaken by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), and the first P3 utilised in the state under new rules that allow for private sector participation in transportation projects. It calls for the construction of a 16-mile, limited access, four-lane highway that will bypass about 26 miles of US 52 near Sciotoville and US 23 north of Lucasville in Portsmouth, Ohio, reducing travel times by an estimated 16 minutes when compared with alternative routes in the area.

According to the ODOT website, the large number of access points to US 52 and US 23, added to the plethora of traffic signals along the corridor, currently compromises the highways' ability to safely and efficiently serve their intended function as a primary arterial. The department also reports that the bypass will complete the missing link of the Appalachian Development Highway System in Ohio.

The project will be developed by Portsmouth Gateway Group, a private consortium that will directly receive the TIFIA loan. The group will operate and maintain the bypass for up to 35 years after construction is complete.

Consortium participants include equity investors ACS Infrastructure Development, Infrared Capital Partners and Star America Fund; contractors Dragados USA, the Beaver Excavating Company and John R. Jurgensen; and designer ms Consultants.

ODOT reached commercial close with the consortium in December 2014 under a design, build, operate and maintain contract with availability payments. In its bid to secure the contract, The Portsmouth Gateway Group estimated that the project would cost a total $429 million.

To date, USDOT reports that TIFIA financing has turned $22 billion of department capital into $78 billion in infrastructure investment nationally.