- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A group of private investors this week will submit a proposal to the Virginia Department of Transportation to engage in a public-private partnership to improve the Dulles Toll Road in Virginia and help finance a rail extension to Washington Dulles International Airport.

The Dulles Corridor Mobility Initiative will help drivers and people who use public transportation, those involved said yesterday in a briefing with The Washington Times.

The partnership will pick up the state’s share of the funding at no risk to the state, which still would own the road. The group is proposing to invest more than $1 billion in private funds in exchange for a 50-year concession to operate and maintain the Dulles Toll Road.

“We’re in a position to take more risk than the public sector is,” said Curtis M. Coward, president of Trident Investment Group LLC.

The partnership, called Infrastructure Investment Group, is made up of Trident and Public-Private Solutions, among others. Former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, a Democrat, is also part of the partnership.

J. Kenneth Klinge, a former member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board and a key player in the project, said a rail extension to Dulles will improve the commutes for many, but rail brings no benefit for toll payers. Under the partnership’s proposal, “They’re getting a better road,” he said.

Mr. Coward said the partnership immediately would improve the 14-mile toll road to reduce gridlock, and he guaranteed that there will be no toll increase until 2010. The improvements will focus on using technology to move cars through the Dulles corridor faster, Mr. Coward said.

“Enhancing the flow will be critical to the economic vitality of the corridor,” he said.

Regular toll lanes filter an average of 400 to 500 cars per hour, but automated toll lanes can serve 1,800 to 2,000 cars per hour, he said. There are 400,000 toll transactions daily.

In addition, the partnership will create ramps and overpasses to make it easier to get from the Beltway to Dulles airport, he said.

Many of the improvements, such as repaving the toll road, will be completed in the first three years, he said. All of the improvements will be complete by 2011.

Once VDOT receives the proposal, there will be an open period for competitive bids and a period for public hearings to obtain commuter and resident opinions on the project.

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