Virginia tolls up for grabs

An international contractor has entered discussions with Virginia’s Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA) to privately manage a number of toll roads.

Officials from Abertis have expressed an interest in operating the Downtown Expressway and Powhite Parkway as the RMA looks at ways to refinance its decades-long debt to Richmond City Council.

Under a proposed plan, RMA would postpone until 2041 the date when its bonds would be paid off and toll road ownership would revert to the city.

Members of the city council have shown positive signs for such a deal, but City Attorney Allen L Jackson said the RMA could not pursue a concession arrangement for the toll roads without changes to the state law that established the RMA.

RMA's toll roads generate more than $35m in revenue annually and the mainline tolls of the Downtown Expressway and Powhite Parkway are currently 70 cents.