P3 option ‘potentially a decade faster’ for I-77

An unsolicited proposal from Spanish contractor Cintra could result in the I-77 Express Lanes South project being delivered a decade earlier than under a traditional approach, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) officials have suggested.

The officials were speaking at a Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) board meeting to provide more information on the potential for a P3 to deliver the Express Lanes project.

Cintra has been revealed as the company behind an unsolicited proposal lodged with NCDOT earlier this year, but the project will only go ahead with approval from the CRTPO.

David Roy, chief financial officer of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, set out the program for delivering the project under a P3 option or via a traditional funding approach.

While a P3 scheme could be open to traffic “sometime in the early 2030s”, he suggested that potential funding from state funds would not be available for a traditional project until at least 2029. “We believe the project could take approximately 10-15 years to complete from that point,” he added.

The CRTPO meeting was an information gathering session, so no formal decision on whether to progress the project was made, but it is anticipated a decision on whether to let NCDOT progress its analysis of the unsolicited P3 proposal could be made at its November meeting.

If the CRTPO does approve NCDOT to progress the project, it would have two further opportunities to decide on whether to continue down the P3 route or to reject the unsolicited proposal in favor of a traditional procurement.