To the Editor:
Recently, there have been a lot of media reports regarding Interstate 66 and the proposal by the Virginia Department of Transportation to develop a multi-modal solution on I-66. As a longtime resident of western Fairfax County, I share the frustration of thousands of commuters who have sat in gridlock on I-66 for years. Improvements to this corridor are critical to the continued growth of our region — but they must be done right.
The proposed Interstate 66 project is a capital-intensive endeavor for the 25-mile stretch between Haymarket and I-495. While the scope of the project is well defined the question is how the Commonwealth should finance this $2.1 billion megaproject. The answer: Through a public-private partnership, commonly known as a P3.
Through developing this project as a P3, Virginia could leverage private investment to fund the corridor improvements. The total cost of this project is estimated at $2.1 billion and even with new transportation dollars the Commonwealth is struggling to meet the demands of a transportation system that has been neglected for years. As evidenced by the I-95 Express Lanes, the state partnered with a private investor and delivered $10 in improvements for every single tax dollar spent. A P3 on I-66 would enable state and local leaders to leverage private investment and utilize hundreds of millions of dollars of finite resources for other critically needed projects.
Projects such as the one proposed for Interstate 66 are complex and risky. By utilizing a public private partnership for Interstate 66, Virginia could transfer a substantial amount of risk associated with the project to the private sector. This means that taxpayers will not incur unexpected costs during construction or during the operation of the road.
A public-private partnership would also harness private sector innovation to develop a project that minimizes the impact to communities along the I-66 corridor. There has been a lot of discussion about the initial design that VDOT has proposed because of the amount of property it takes along the corridor. Those homeowners have every right to be upset. However, through a public private partnership, Virginia can leverage the innovation of the private sector to develop a project that minimizes the impact to the local community. This solution was utilized on I-495 and after VDOT first proposed a design that took 300 homes and businesses and cost in excess of $3.6 billion the private sector was able to construct the project at a cost of $1.4 billion and only took eight homes.
A P3 on Interstate 66 is a sound approach and state leaders should take opportunities like the Interstate 66 project to attract private investment to help close the funding gap. This approach will help ensure that more transportation priorities driving the greatest relief will get funded.
Republican Nominee for Sully Supervisor