Virginia’s transport sector gets $13.1bn boost(2)

Virginia’s transportation board has approved a six-year programme that will allocate $13.1 billion to transportation improvements across the state.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) has approved the final version of a six-year improvement programme, which allocates $13.1 billion to highways, rail and public transportation beginning July 1.

The board made final adjustments to the programme after seeking input from the public through town hall meetings as well as oral and written comments.

“The CTB adjusted the programme to reflect the needs and priorities of local officials, residents and the travelling public who use and know their transportation system better than anyone else,” Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.

Among the projects that will receive funding through the programme include those procured as public-private partnerships (PPP; P3). They are the Corridor Q Poplar Creek, CFX Crane’s Nest Design, Dulles Rail, and Interstate 66 (I-66), said Tamara Rollison, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

The last project, I-66, is in the process of being evaluated as a possible P3.

“I-66 has proceeded through the high-level and detail-level screening process by which we vet our potential P3 projects and we have received the go ahead from VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation] to work on the project development elements which lead to procurement,” Jackie Cromwell of Virginia’s Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships (OTP3) told Infrastructure Investor in an e-mailed message.

The six-year programme will be updated later this year to comply with the new prioritisation process, which was signed into law under House Bill 2 by McAuliffe earlier this year, according to the governor’s statement.

House Bill 2, which the governor signed into law on April 6, 2014, seeks to establish an objective process in selecting projects that meet the needs of the state’s taxpayers.

To that end, the CTB will work in collaboration with local authorities to set weights for key factors, such as congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety and environmental quality. The law goes into effect July 1.

In addition to establishing a more needs-based approach to project selection, McAuliffe, who assumed office in January, has also taken steps to strengthen transparency in the P3 process by calling on Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne to oversee the effort in collaboration with the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

In May, the CTB passed a resolution instructing OTP3 to exhaustively review the process for procuring P3s.

OTP3 executive director J Douglas Koelemay and Highway Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick have until October 2014 to present their recommendations.