Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the Dominion Boulevard project, a significant transportation improvement to ease congestion and improve safety in Chesapeake, will move forward as a result of financing provided by the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (VTIB).
The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) voted to approve Chesapeake's application for financing Dominion Boulevard road and bridge construction through the infrastructure bank. It issues low-interest loans to fast-track high priority projects. The infrastructure bank is part of the governor's $4 billion transportation package passed in 2011 by the General Assembly.
"The Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank allows critical transportation projects to be built now instead of waiting for years to happen," said Governor McDonnell. "The bank provides a resource that public- and private-sector entities can use to finance projects and accelerate construction. This plays a major role in driving the economic vitality of Virginia and getting citizens back to work. The Dominion Boulevard improvements have the potential of creating more than 13,000 jobs as a result of better transportation and access."
The 3.8-mile project will widen Dominion Boulevard from two to four lanes from Cedar Road to Great Bridge Boulevard, replace the two-lane drawbridge over the Elizabeth River with a four-lane fixed-span, high-rise bridge, and provide improved connection between I-64/464 and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) relocation of the southernmost portion of Route 17 to the Virginia/North Carolina line. The construction cost is $305 million of the total project estimate of $412 million. While much of the funding will be provided by toll revenue bonds and previously committed funds, the City of Chesapeake submitted an application for a $152 million loan from the infrastructure bank last December to complete the funding package. After review by VDOT and the Virginia Resources Authority which manages the VTIB, and CTB approval, Chesapeake is able to move ahead on the project.
Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton said, "The Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank has the potential to revolutionize how projects are financed and advanced in our state. The time is now for the Commonwealth and localities to take advantage of this climate of low interest rates for financing of transportation projects. This can move projects from planning to construction."
"Chesapeake is now the first entity to receive a loan from the infrastructure bank," said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley. "We are leveraging all resources to get projects and traffic moving."
The VTIB, initially funded with $283 million from the fiscal year 2010 surplus and savings from the VDOT performance audit, is designed to make low-interest loans and grants to localities, transportation authorities and private-sector partners for transportation projects. The administration is looking to put $1 billion into the bank through a number of mechanisms over the next three years.