Open P3 in the frame for NC’s I-77 South

Credit: Getty

North Carolina’s latest I-77 managed lanes project could become a publicly tendered P3 after a working group rejected an unsolicited P3 proposal.

The group, made up of officials from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO), has recommended to a CRTPO board to decline an unsolicited P3 proposal made by Cintra last year.

The proposal sought to widen over 9 miles of the I-77 south of Charlotte with express lanes through a P3.

Reporting to the CRTPO board last week, the working group recommended “not to go forward” with the unsolicited proposal, adding that it was “not materially different” from the existing State Transportation Improvement Program’s (STIP) I-5718 plan to add managed lanes to a slightly longer stretch of the I-77, saying that the two were “essentially the same.”

The STIP project was previously valued at around $2.1bn, but the authorities are expecting the price to increase due to inflationary pressures.

A comparative analysis is underway to assess whether to proceed with an open P3 procurement or to deliver the project publicly.

A soft market sounding is expected to form part of the analysis. An outcome is expected to be presented to decision-makers in Spring 2024.

According to the CRTPO session last week, if a P3 is selected as the preferred option, Cintra would be allowed to compete but would not be automatically shortlisted.

Cintra was part of the previous I-77 express lanes P3 project, located north of Charlotte.