MD Transportation Department snags 27 inquiries for $7.6B highway project
- The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) says 27 private firms have expressed interest in participating in its $7.6 billion Interstate 270-Interstate 495 (Capital Beltway) project, according to Bethesda Magazine.
- MDOT officials said the interest has come from regional, national and international companies from seven different countries and includes investors, construction companies and engineering firms, among others. The private companies were responding to a state request for information about qualifications, capacity and preliminary strategies on how they would approach the project, which would be North America's largest highway public-private partnership (P3) yet. The state will next issue an official request for proposals.
- MDOT plans to add four toll lanes to both I-270 and the Capital Beltway in order to help ease traffic congestion on the roadways. The winning bidder will design, finance, build and operate the new lanes and be reimbursed with toll revenue.
When Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan first announced the proposed project, it was pegged at about $9 billion, according to the AASHTO Journal, and included an expansion of the Baltimore–Washington Parkway, or Maryland Route 295. Only a month before the plan's announcement, Hogan said MDOT had plans to ease congestion on I-270 near the Capital Beltway in Montgomery County under a $230 million plan. While the announcement lacked specifics, this eventual highway P3 could address those issues.
P3s are becoming a more popular way for states to accomplish their infrastructure goals as most of the risk, including those associated with financing, is shifted to the private sector. Some states have also reported seeing their total costs reduced and their construction schedules protracted.
In October, Michigan's Transportation Department announced that it would use the P3 model to complete a $1 billion state highway upgrade project in Oakland County, shortening the projected timeline by up to 10 years. Without using a P3, the department would have to wait for state funds to become available in order to move forward with the project.
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