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The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has announced that it has received 27 responses to the Request for Information (RFI) for two congestion relief projects concerning I-495/I-95 (Capital Beltway) in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and I-270 in Frederick and Montgomery counties.
These projects are part of MDOT's US$9 billion Traffic Relief Plan, in addition to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295). These three major state highways connect Baltimore and Washington D.C.. They are some of the most congested routes in the USA. I-495/I-95 (Capital Beltway) and I-270 each carry more than 200,000 daily trips.
I-495 is the only circumferential route in the region that provides interregional connections to many radial routes to and from Maryland’s Baltimore-Washington corridors, such as I-270, US 29, I-95, MD 295, US 50, MD 4, MD 5, MD 210, and I-295 in Maryland. I-270 is the only freeway link between I-495 and the fast-growing northwest suburbs and the city of Frederick.
In addition to heavy commuter traffic demand, I-270 is also the predominant route for freight and long-distance travel between Maryland’s metropolitan Washington corridors and 4 points west. These corridors are critical to supporting continued job growth and quality of life in the region.
MDOT issued a RFI in September 2017 specifically concerning the implementation of a system of managed express toll lanes on I-495 and I-270 that would connect the Intercounty Connector (MD 200) Express Toll Lanes, Virginia’s system of Express Lanes, and the fast-growing and highly congested Baltimore-Washington corridors commuter areas in Maryland through a public-private partnership.
The estimated value of this P3 is US$7.6 billion, making it the largest P3 highway project in North America. MDOT seeks private developers to design, build, finance, operate and/or maintain new express toll lanes on I-495 (Capital Beltway) between American Legion Bridge and Woodrow Wilson Bridge and on I-270 between I-495 and I-70.
Formal industry responses to the RFI were due on 20 December 2017. MDOT have detailed that responses were received from regional, national and international firms, which represented seven different countries. The responses were received from concessionaires, investors, contractors, engineers and various other types of firms.
However the department stipulated that responding to the RFI was not a requirement for participating in future stages of the tender process. Thus this mix may not be reflective of the eventual bids submitted.
An international industry forum was held in December to inform industry professionals about the Traffic Relief Plan and establish expectations and dialogue. More than 350 transportation professionals from around the world attended.
MDOT is now in the process of reviewing the RFI responses.
Congestion currently costs Maryland over US$2 billion dollars. The statewide cost of congestion based on auto delay, truck delay, and wasted fuel and emissions was estimated at US$2.05 billion in 2015, an increase of 22% from the US$1.68 billion estimated cost of congestion in 2013. More than 98% of the weekday congestion cost was incurred in the Baltimore/Washington region.