Maryland transportation officials said they plan to announce a shortlist of the most qualified teams in July. They have previously said they expect to allow three teams to submit detailed proposals in early 2021. In exchange for designing the lanes, financing their construction and then building and operating them, the companies would keep most of the toll revenue over 50 years.
State officials said they expect to submit a winning proposal to the state’s Board of Public Works for approval in spring or early summer 2021, after federally required environmental impact studies are complete.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has previously said the lanes are needed to relieve the Washington suburbs’ stifling traffic congestion and attract economic growth. In a release Tuesday, Hogan said the project also will help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we plan for recovery, these critical infrastructure projects are key to rebuilding our economy and keeping the supply chain moving,” Hogan said. “It is great to see leading international firms interested in investing in the National Capital region.”
While the pandemic is projected to significantly shrink state tax revenue, Hogan has said the toll lanes will come at no cost to the state. Maryland officials recently postponed plans to add Beltway toll lanes east of I-270 due to the greater impacts on parkland and neighborhoods.
Critics have said expanding highways will encourage driving, contribute to climate change and shortchange public transportation.
Maryland transportation officials have said they will narrow the list of potential bidders based on the companies’ “experience, qualifications, past performance in successfully delivering similar projects, and on their financial capability.”
One team includes Transurban, which operates toll lanes on the Beltway and Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia. Another includes Meridiam. A firm with the same name leads the public-private partnership on Maryland’s light-rail Purple Line, but a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Transportation would not confirm whether it is the same company. That partnership has recently come under scrutiny for long-standing disagreements between the private sector and the state over significant delays and cost overruns.
The four teams who responded to the state’s “request for qualifications” are:
● Accelerate MarylandExpress Partners:
Lead project developer: Itinera Infrastructure & Concessions
Lead contractors: Halmar International and Itinera
Designer: Atkins North America and Gannett Fleming
● Accelerate Maryland Partners:
Lead project developer: Transurban (USA) Operations and Macquarie Infrastructure Developments
Lead contractor: Archer Western Construction
Designers: Dewberry Engineers and Stantec Consulting Services
●Capital Express Mobility Partners:
Lead project developer: Cintra Global, Meridiam Capital Express and John Laing Investments Limited
Lead contractor: Ferrovial Agroman US
Designers: AECOM Technical Services
● Potomac Mobility Group:
Lead project developer: ACS Infrastructure Development
Lead contractor: Dragados USA
Designers: Parsons Transportation Group, Jacobs Engineering Group, and HDR Engineering