[The complete list of organizations endorsing this opinion piece can be found at the bottom of it.]
Editor: As a coalition representing the vast majority of businesses and employees in Northern Virginia’s private-sector workforce, we would like to express our support for the Interstate 66 Outside the Beltway improvement project.
In order for our region to remain economically competitive, it is critical that we develop a 21st-century transportation-infrastructure system. Improvements to Interstate 66 are central to the development of that transportation network.
Developing a state-of-the-art transportation network complements ongoing efforts to attract new businesses to Virginia to grow and diversify our economy.
As Northern Virginia businesses continue to see a reduction in federal spending, these efforts are especially important to the long-term success of our region. To remain economically competitive, we must continue to be aggressive in attracting investment, building new infrastructure and strengthening our workforce.
Gov. McAuliffe’s July 2014 announcement of a multi-modal I-66 outside the Beltway with new express and conventional lanes and expanded transit options was applauded by the Northern Virginia business community. It means real relief to the thousands of commuters and businesses that suffer daily in I-66 congestion.
With the Silver Line and the I-95 and 495 Express Lanes open for business, it is now time to turn our focus to reducing congestion and improving travel times in this critical east-west connector.
The Interstate 66 project presents a unique opportunity to attract private investment to Virginia. Properly structured, a public-private partnership will enable the commonwealth to leverage its scarce state and federal transportation resources in the I-66 corridor on other important projects, to improve the entire transportation network. By utilizing a public private partnership, the commonwealth can also transfer a substantial amount of the risk associated with the project to the private partner.
The transfer of risk is an important benefit to the taxpayer, because it preserves Virginia’s finite debt capacity and protects the commonwealth from any financial losses associated with the project.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of developing I-66 as a public-private partnership is the ability to harness private-sector innovation to develop a project that minimizes the impact to communities along the I-66 corridor. As we saw with I-495, VDOT’s first proposed plan required taking more than 300 homes and a cost in excess of $3.6 billion. Through a public-private partnership, the private sector constructed the project at a fixed cost of $2 billion and only took eight homes.
In short, we strongly believe that upgrading I-66 with new express and conventional lanes and transit options as part of the properly structured public private partnership is essential to our region remaining economically competitive long into the 21st century.
Signatories to this letter include:
Associated Builders and Contractors – Virginia chapter
Committee for Dulles
Dulles Area Transportation Association
Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce
Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce
Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce
Heavy Construction Contractors Association
Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce
NAIOP Northern Virginia, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association
Northern Virginia Association of Realtors
Northern Virginia Building Industry Association
Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance
Prince William Chamber of Commerce
Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce
Washington Airports Task Force