West Virginia to issue RFQ for first highway P3

The state has decided to use the public-private partnership model for the Coalfields Expressway project.

The state of West Virginia plans to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for its first public-private partnership (P3) highway project, according to a joint statement from Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox, Congressman Nick Rahall and the Coalfields Expressway Authority.

This 3.3-mile section of the Coalfields Expressway will connect Mullens to existing sections already under construction. Once completed, it will open the expressway from I-64/I-77 to Mullens, which is nearly 19 miles. 

The Coalfields Expressway project is a multi-lane expressway connecting I-64/I-77 at Beckley and US 23 near Grundy. In West Virginia, the Coalfields Expressway will be about 65 miles long, while in Virginia the length of the corridor will be about 50 miles.

Final bids for the Coalfields P3 project are expected to be opened in December, and construction is set to begin in the spring of 2015, the statement said.

Tomblin called the state’s first P3 “a great example of how state government and the private sector can work together to improve the quality of life for our residents.”

West Virginia’s decision to go with the P3 model came in contrast with the cancelling of a highway P3 project in the state of Nevada.

Last week, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) decided to fund Project Neon via a bond issuance, abandoning the originally-proposed P3 agreement.

The transportation board concluded that high demand for the bonds would allow for a lower financing cost for the state and a greater amount of flexibility against unknown outcomes.