Virginia officials broke ground last week on an eight-mile, $500 million extension of Interstate 395's express lanes, which will run from Alexandria, VA, to the Washington, DC, border, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Australia-based Transurban, the Virginia Department of Transportation's private partner, designed and helped finance the project and will operate and maintain the express lanes as part of its contract. Transurban will also pay VDOT $15 million annually, which will be used to fund other transit projects.
The express-lane project is the first in the state's $1.4 billion Atlantic Gateway initiative, which will improve the roughly 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 from the DC suburbs to Fredericksburg, VA.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced in March that the state would use a public-private partnership to deliver the new express lanes. As is common when using the project financing method, state officials said a P3 would allow them to shift risk to the private sector and ensure on-time delivery.
The Atlantic Gateway collection of projects includes 14 miles of new railroad tracks to increase commuter and freight capacity; additional commuter and truck parking along the I-95 corridor; self-driving vehicle pavement; and the purchase of an abandoned North Carolina-to-Virginia rail corridor for a potential high-speed rail line.
In July 2016, less than a month after the I-95 improvement plan was announced, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Atlantic Gateway initiative a $165 million FASTLANE grant. Those funds join $565 million from Transurban and CSX Transportation and $710 million from the state.
President Donald Trump's 2018 budget request cut infrastructure funding programs like the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants and the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grants. However, he proposed funding the FASTLANE program with $900 million.
In June, the USDOT announced that it would reshape the FASTLANE funding model into one that favored rural infrastructure projects, as well as those funded by private or other non-federal investments. The agency said that 25% of the program's funds would be earmarked for rural projects and that going forward the awards would be called Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants instead of FASTLANE.