Hampton Roads Third Crossing Bridge-Tunnel Commission
June 19, 2001, Norfolk
The commission was briefed by a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) senior transportation engineer, who reported that a Record of Decision had been issued by the Federal Highway Administration for the Hampton Roads Crossing Study Final Environmental Impact Statement. The Record of Decision supports VDOT's recommendation (identified as Candidate Build 9 in the final environmental impact statement), which advocates a new crossing of Hampton Roads parallel to the current I-664 and Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel with connections to I-664 in the City of Chesapeake, I-664 in the City of Newport News, and I-564 in the City of Norfolk.
The commission also heard from another senior transportation engineer, who discussed the solicitation of private sector proposals under the Public-Private Partnership Act. He reported that the request for proposal (RFP) was advertised several times, but VDOT received only one expression of interest. This led to some discussion among commission members on the limited number of companies worldwide with the expertise to build such a project.
The focus of the remainder of the meeting was a presentation by counsel for Hampton Roads Constructors (HRC), a consortium of bridge-tunnel contractors, who reiterated the need for the project and highlighted the key elements of HRC's proposal, which breaks the project down into five design and construction phases. In light of the fact that VDOT had not accepted HRC's bid and would still be receiving proposals through June 29, the attorney declined to make the financial components of HRC's proposal public. His position, however, was that HRC could complete the project by 2009 (five years sooner than VDOT's projection), and for less that the estimated cost of $4.4 billion.
The point was raised that road construction under a public/private partnership may involve tolls, and several members expressed opinions on the merits and disadvantages of toll-based financing. Should VDOT accept HRC's bid, Chairman Wagner requested a breakdown of public/private financing options for the various construction phases identified in the proposal.
At the conclusion of these presentations, the chairman suggested a joint meeting with the membership of two other legislative study groups with an interest in the region's transportation system: the U. S. Route 460 Upgrade Committee and the Hampton Roads Unfunded Transportation Projects Committee. Senator Williams endorsed this plan and it was agreed to schedule a joint meeting for later in the summer or early next fall.