UPDATE: The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Virginia a $165 million FASTLANE grant for the Atlantic Gateway plan, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced in a press release Tuesday. The $1.4 billion project will include the $165 million federal grant, $565 million in private funds from Transurban and CSX Transportation, and $710 million from the state, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
McAuliffe said in his statement that construction on the massive project will begin as soon as 2017, as preliminary engineering and environmental work has already started.
Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said in the statement, "Our selection is the result of support and cooperation from elected officials, local and regional leaders, chambers of commerce, the transportation industry, our private sector partners, and many others who clearly see the Atlantic Gateway project is absolutely essential to Northern Virginia and Virginia’s long-term economic competitiveness."
- McAuliffe proposed "the biggest transportation project" in the state's history on June 29, a $1.4 billion infrastructure program, according to WJLA.
- The Atlantic Gateway project will fund an expansion of Interstate 95 — as well as Virginia Railway Express and Amtrak service — and pay for a program to repair bridges and increase the number of buses and parking spaces.
- Virginia had originally asked for a $200 million grant from the Transportation Department's FASTLANE program, which was established to improve mobility on transportation projects across the U.S.
Virginia is part of another major infrastructure project in the works, a new $1 billion, 213-mile interstate highway connecting Norfolk, VA, and Raleigh, NC. The Interstate 87 project, which will take approximately 20 years to complete, won Congressional approval last year, but there are no concrete plans yet for a construction timeline or funding. However, according to the Federal Highway Administration, the federal government pays for 90% of interstate construction projects.
Another ambitious infrastructure plan is in the works in Illinois, which just announced an $11.2 billion, six year initiative to repair its roads, highways and bridges. Approximately $800 million in FAST Act funding is locked in, but state officials said that "all stakeholders" in the project would have to buckle down and work to come up with a solution for the balance.
Virginia is just one of several recent states that have turned to public-private partnerships (P3s) to fund their infrastructure projects, like the Skanska-led $2.3 billion, 21-mile Interstate 4 expansion and renovation in Orlando, FL, or the $4 billion New York City LaGuardia Terminal B project, which just started construction. Typically, public agencies are tight on funds, so the private component of the P3 will finance the majority of the project and then make its profit on the often decades-long operation and maintenance portion of the contract. This arrangement allows municipalities, counties or states to spread out available money across more projects and introduces the private sector's expertise and experience.