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P3 contract responsible for I-77 project

A public-private-partnership (P3) will be responsible for a major project to convert 42km (26 miles) of existing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes along I-77 to managed High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has signed an agreement with Cintra, a subsidiary of Ferrovial, for a P3 contract to improve the traffic flow along the I-77 in the Charlotte area, one of the most congested roadways in the state. The state will invest about US$88m and Cintra will secure the remainder of the US$655m to design, build, operate and maintain the managed lanes project in exchange for toll revenue generated from the lanes. This public-private partnership will complete the project within four years instead of the estimated 20 years it would take to secure enough state funding to move forward. Cintra will be responsible for the development of the project and construction will be led by a joint venture (JV) between Ferrovial Agroman and WC English. Construction is expected to begin by early 2015 and be completed in mid-2018. The term of the concession will be 50 years after the project opens to traffic.

The I-77 HOT Lanes Project is divided into three sections: the project’s 3.5km (2.2 miles) southern section and the 24km (14.9 miles) central section will have an ultimate configuration of two HOT lanes in each direction; the north section includes 14km (8.8 miles) of new construction of one HOT lane in each direction. The managed HOT lanes give drivers a choice to pay a toll to enter and exit the lanes at various points to avoid congestion, or continue using general-purpose lanes for free. Managed lanes also help ease congestion on the free, general-purpose lanes for other drivers. The converted HOV lanes and new lanes will still allow free use for eligible carpoolers (three passengers or greater), buses and motorcyclists. Variable tolls will operate to manage the number of vehicles in the lanes and help ensure free-flowing traffic, even during morning and evening rush hours. The project will enhance traffic connectivity between residential areas along the corridor and downtown Charlotte, providing traffic congestion relief to rapidly growing communities in the area. This portion of the I-77 corridor already experiences significant congestion, and projections show a 2-3% increase in traffic volume is expected every year through 2030.

“This project provides an innovative and comprehensive solution to existing and future congestion in this corridor,” said NCDOT Secretary, Tony Tata. “Utilizing the public-private partnership concept is allowing us to improve nearly 26 miles of I-77 in just a few years, not in decades. This expansion will provide an option for reliable travel time, while addressing long-term mobility concerns.”

June 30, 2014

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