Private firms want to take over Dulles Toll Road

News AASHTO Journal August 03, 2005
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A group of private firms has approached the state of Virginia, offering<br /> to take over operation of the state-owned and operated

A group of private firms has approached the state of
Virginia, offering to take over operation of the state-owned and operated
Dulles Toll Road and promising to make a billion dollars’ worth of highway
improvements the state cannot now currently afford.

The concept would be possible according to the terms of the
state’s Public-Private Transportation Act, which lets the agency partner with
the private sector to build roads more efficiently.

Under the proposal, the state would continue to own the road
but a private consortium would operate the 14-mile toll road for 50 years,
collecting tolls that now go into state coffers. The idea has been under
discussion for about a year, said Curtis M. Coward, president of Vienna-based
Trident Investment Group LLC.

Backers of the concept say it would allow improvements that
would speed traffic along the heavily traveled highway and bring a proposed
rail line to Dulles International Airport closer to reality. Under the private
ownership plan, a portion of current tolls now being collected to finance the
rail line would continue to be dedicated to that project.

Virginia is one of several states that have turned to the
private sector for highway construction or operation.

The Dulles proposal is the first in the state involving an
already-existing roadway. The consortium includes Citigroup Global Markets;
Clark Construction Group; Shirley Contracting; and Autostrade, Laing and
Infrastructure Investment Group.

The plan calls for the group to raise $1 billion through
private investment and the sale of special-purpose bonds. It would be used to
cover costs of 19 improvement projects along the route, including faster
toll-collection technology, ramps and auxiliary lanes.

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