Thursday, January 31, 2019

Virginia and Transurban Agree To Invest More Than $1 Billion In Northern Virginia Transportation

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia has signed agreements with private partner Transurban to deliver critical transportation solutions along Interstate 495 and Interstate 95. Months of close collaboration and negotiation between the Commonwealth and Transurban have resulted in a deal for four transportation infrastructure projects that will create significant value for citizens and businesses throughout Northern Virginia and Fredericksburg.
“My administration is committed to creating opportunity for Virginia families and businesses in every corner of the Commonwealth, and that requires having a safe, reliable transportation network,” said Governor Northam. “I am pleased to announce these four projects that will bring significant improvements to I-495 and I-95, easing congestion, enhancing safety, and driving economic growth.”
The projects are:
  • A 2.5-mile extension of the 495 Express Lanes north to the American Legion Bridge to reduce congestion. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Transurban have signed a Project Development Agreement for the Capital Beltway Express Lanes Northern Extension (Project NEXT), which includes direct connections with the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Dulles Toll Road.  Four general purpose (GP) lanes and two new Express Lanes will run in each direction of the Capital Beltway starting from the current terminus near the Dulles Access Road and ending at the American Legion Bridge. With no public funding by the Commonwealth, the Express Lanes network will be extended to the Maryland border, helping address one of the worst bottlenecks in the region and reduce cut-through traffic in local McLean neighborhoods.
  • Addition of a new, reversible ramp connecting the existing 95 Express Lanes at Opitz Boulevard to provide improved access to Potomac Mills and Sentara Virginia Medical Center. The ramp will offer Express Lane drivers the option to exit directly onto Opitz Boulevard. Transurban will be responsible for the design, construction, maintenance, and all associated costs, creating greater accessibility for the residents and business community.
  • Construction of a new southbound Occoquan auxiliary lane on Interstate 95 in Woodbridgeto address the traffic bottleneck at the Occoquan Bridge. The Occoquan Auxiliary Lane will connect the southbound Route 123 ramp onto I-95 with the off-ramp at westbound Prince William Parkway. The Commonwealth and Transurban have agreed the improvements will not require any compensation payment to Transurban.  
“Transurban has a long history of working with the Commonwealth to collaboratively solve major transportation challenges,” said Transurban President Jennifer Aument. “With expanded capacity and new connections to commuter routes and commercial centers, we are committed to delivering transportation solutions that keep travelers moving faster and safer throughout Northern Virginia.”
VDOT is advancing required environmental studies to support these projects, and the partners will commence extensive engagement with the community and local stakeholders as they develop more detailed design plans. While the timeline for delivery of the improvements will continue to be refined, construction could begin as early as 2020. 
  • In addition, the proposal for the Fredericksburg Extension Project (Fred Ex), a project consisting of a 10-mile extension of the 95 Express Lanes to Fredericksburg, has been finalized and is on track for commercial close this spring. Since the project was initially announced in January 2018, contract negotiations, a competitive design-build procurement, and more favorable financing options have advanced the deal, enabling Transurban to deliver to the Commonwealth a payment of between $54 to 98 million to fund additional transportation improvements depending on final teams of TIFIA, a low interest federal loan. In addition to the existing three general purpose (GP) lanes, Fred Ex will provide two reversible Express Lanes of new capacity, which will be available at no charge to HOV 3+ and transit riders. The project is expected to increase capacity on this section of I-95 by 66 percent during peak periods. Construction is planned to begin later this year with the facility opening to traffic in the fall of 2022.
“These negotiations have resulted in a more than $1 billion investment in transportation infrastructure in these vital regions of Virginia,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Working collaboratively, we are delivering on our commitment to reduce congestion, improve safety, and increase reliability for those we serve.”
In total, Transurban has committed more than $1 billion over the next five years to fund enhancements to the regional transportation network. Competitive design-build procurements are being used to further ensure best value for Virginia taxpayers.
“The I-95 bottleneck at the Occoquan Bridge has been a source of personal frustration and time stuck in traffic—valuable time that could be spent with family,” said Senator Jeremy McPike. “With funding now in place, VDOT will begin the design and construction that our community has sought for years. I applaud Governor Northam and Secretary Valentine for their commitment and leadership to making improvements and identifying funding to start this project immediately.”
“The Occoquan bottleneck is the worst traffic problem in Virginia and has been one of my top priorities since I was elected to represent Prince William County in 2015,” said Senator Scott Surovell. “I am ecstatic that Governor Northam’s administration and Transurban were able to negotiate a way to expedite construction on this critical improvement. Everyone wins in this deal.”
“I am delighted that Governor Northam and his team have found a way to expand capacity on I-495, heading up to the American Legion Bridge,” said Senator Barbara Favola. “This improvement demonstrates Virginia’s commitment to easing traffic throughout the region and provides further incentives for Maryland to help address congestion on the Bridge.”
By 2022, the Commonwealth of Virginia will have in place 90 miles of connected Express Lanes network throughout Northern Virginia and Fredericksburg. Together with general purpose (GP) lanes, rail, commuter rail, transit, ferries, and trails, these multimodal travel options are creating a future of more seamless mobility for residents, commuters, and businesses.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Commonwealth Transportation Board Releases Draft SMART SCALE Project Scores

RICHMOND, Va. – The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) this week released scores for transportation projects that have been vetted and validated through the third round of the SMART SCALE prioritization program. The SMART SCALE process ensures an objective, data-driven approach to selecting which transportation projects to develop in the Commonwealth and the delivery of projects that offer the most beneficial improvements to a region. 
Transportation project applications are submitted biennially by localities, regional entities, and metropolitan organizations and scored based on factors including safety improvements, congestion reduction, accessibility, land use (in larger regions), environmental quality, and economic development. 
After projects are submitted for review, project details are available for public review and input during nine public meetings across the state in the fall. The CTB will announce the final funding decisions on projects that will be included in the Six-Year Improvement Program in June 2019. Once projects are selected for funding in the program, they will be fully funded through construction. 
“This is the first step in a process that will include CTB review, public input, and collaboration to ensure we are funding the most critical projects with the limited resources we have available,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine.
SMART SCALE projects are solutions that typically provide a capital improvement, transportation demand management, or safety improvement.
In other business, the CTB approved the following:
  1. A $23 million contract was awarded to Corman Kokosing Construction Company of Annapolis Junction, MD, to replace the bridge that carries Denbigh Boulevard (Route 173) over Interstate 64 in Newport News in VDOT’s Hampton Roads District. The new bridge will consist of four 12-foot travel lanes, two 8-foot sidewalks and a 16-foot raised median. Project completion is expected in July 2021. 
  2.  A $5.3 million contract was awarded to Perry Engineering Company, Inc., of Winchester, VA, for road reconstruction and intersection improvements for just over one mile on Route 655 in eastern Frederick County, located in VDOT’s Staunton District. The project will add turn lanes at the Route 655 intersections with Route 50 and Route 656. Project completion is expected in July 2020.
  3. Six contracts totaling $38.5 million were awarded for paving in various locations in VDOT’s Bristol, Culpeper, Northern Virginia, and Salem districts, including:
  • Northern Virginia District
    • $5.1 million contract awarded to Arthur Construction Co., Inc., of Dulles
    • $5.7 million contract awarded to Virginia Paving Company, a division of Eurovia Atlantic Coast, LLC, of Charlotte, NC
    • $6.1 million contract awarded to Francis O. Day Co., Inc., of Rockville, MD
  • Bristol District
    • $5.6 million contract awarded to W-L Construction & Paving, Inc., of Chilhowie
  • Culpeper District
    • $6.3 million contract awarded to Superior Paving Corporation of Gainesville
  • Salem District
    • $9.7 million contract awarded to Adams Construction Company of Roanoke
 Appointed by the governor, the 17-member CTB establishes the administrative policies and approves funding allocation for Virginia’s transportation system.
 For more information on CTB meeting times and locations:
 For a listing of SMART SCALE scores:

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Governor Northam and Legislators Announce Bipartisan Proposal for Dedicated Funding to Improve Interstate 81

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a legislative proposal that will fund $2.2 billion in critical improvements along the Interstate 81 (1-81) Corridor. The legislation is a result of a year-long study completed by the Commonwealth Transportation Board at the direction of the General Assembly.
“Interstate 81 is the economic engine of western Virginia, and it’s time we take decisive action to enhance the safety and improve the reliability of this key corridor,” said Governor Northam. “I am committed to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to establish a dedicated funding source that will support the critical improvements that Interstate 81 needs to move goods and people around the Commonwealth.”
The initial draft legislation would establish an Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Fund supported by tolls along I-81. The proposal would establish limits on toll rates and give automobiles and small trucks the ability to purchase an annual pass allowing unlimited use of I-81 for a fixed yearly fee. Revenues collected would only be used for improvements included in the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan that was adopted by the Board at its December meeting.
“Interstate 81 is a critical element of Virginia’s transportation infrastructure,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Dedicated funding will allow us to make significant capital, multimodal, and operational improvements to I-81 promoting safety and economic growth.”
The Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Program legislation will be patroned by Senators Mark Obenshain and Bill Carrico in the Senate, and by Delegates Steve Landes and Terry Austin in the House.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to address longstanding issues on the I-81 Corridor,” said Senator Mark Obenshain. “I will continue to work with the Northam administration and with my colleagues in the General Assembly in hope that we can find bipartisan solutions to the critical reliability and safety issues in this region of the Commonwealth.”
“The hard-working citizens in the communities on the I-81 Corridor deserve a viable, long-term solution to the challenges of travel along this route,” said Delegate Steve Landes. “A focus on key improvements and dedicated funding for the corridor will positively affect those who rely on it every day.”
“The residents along the 81 Corridor have called for a safer, more dependable interstate,” said Delegate Chris Hurst. “The time to make these important improvements is now.”
“I-81 is a crucial resource for commerce and for the citizens of Southwest Virginia,” said Senator Bill Carrico. “Carrying 12 million trucks each year, this interstate highway is important for rural economic development in the area.”
“We are listening to the citizens who have told us that 81 needs to be improved,” said Delegate Terry Austin. “I am committed to finding a commonsense solution for I-81 to address safety and reliability.
The Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan can be found at

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

VDOT Partners with Environmental Council to Develop Resilient Stream Crossings

Richmond, VA – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) today announced its partnership with the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) to replace aging stream crossing infrastructure in Rappahannock County with updated designs to help the waterways and wildlife.
VDOT is accountable for many bridges and culverts throughout the state and, through this partnership, will replace two stream crossings with structural designs that mimic a more natural habitat for the Commonwealth’s wildlife.
“This project exemplifies successful collaboration to develop innovative solutions that address environmental challenges related to our transportation infrastructure,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “The PEC was just awarded a grant to cover the cost differential of the sustainable stream crossing solution, which is important for the environment and the citizens of the Commonwealth.”
The PEC on Tuesday was awarded a grant worth nearly $200,000 by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to complete these stream crossing projects at Bolton Branch and Piney River. This work will leave the stream bed intact by constructing a three-sided, more open structure to provide a natural environment for fish and other stream wildlife.
“Virginia’s environment is key to considering any changes to our transportation infrastructure in the Commonwealth,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich. “Through this collaboration, we are able to provide the best solutions for both the environment and the infrastructure and deliver results that without each other, would be major challenges.”
The open culvert design enables fish and other marine life to travel through the stream crossing without impact. Conventional culverts can be restrictive and a variable in the Eastern Brook Trout’s population decline in the Commonwealth.
VDOT implements science-based solutions to avoid and compensate for impacts to wetlands and streams and reducing construction-related effects on the environment.