Washington’s Top News » Maryland is proposing the addition of $7.6 billion in toll lanes along the entire Maryland portion of the Capital Beltway and the length of Interstate 270 by 2025. In response, Virginia now plans to extend both of its existing 495 Express Lanes to the Legion Bridge to provide a continuous trip around the Beltway. The Virginia extension is estimated to cost about $500 million that could be split between the private toll operators and state funding.
This article investigates the financial failure of the Pocahontas Parkway, Route-895, in Virginia. This was the first public-private partnership (P3) used for a highway project in Virginia and the private sector was eager to contribute and ultimately spent more than $300 million. The route that the highway follows was meant to become a center of development, with several thousand homes being planned. Then the economic recession hit and that development never materialized resulting in a road that is barely traveled with pricey tolls. In 2006 Transurban took over management of the road with hopes of turning the road around but had to transfer the road to its creditors in July 2013 because the company could no longer afford to meet the required debt payments. This project exhibits a primary flaw in P3 deals in that they often solely based on profit rather than concrete community infrastructure needs.
Another article on the same topic with more detail on the road’s history and what the future may hold for the road can be accessed here.
This piece compares the Richmond Route 895 (Pocahontas Parkway) to the 495 Express Lanes. Both were public-private partnership toll routes that are managed by the same Australia based firm Transurban. While the Pocahontas Parkway was recently turned over to its creditors Transurban insists that there is no comparison or reason to believe that the 495 project will have the same fate. However a look at the Beltway’s HOT lane numbers show that the lanes already have far fewer drivers using them at this point than originally projected. Goes on to provide examples from across the country of other HOT lane projects that are under performing in regards to revenues and traffic, specifically in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Seattle.