The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) plans to invest $2.4 billion in transportation construction this year, including 990 road projects, the agency announced last week.  The program, the second largest in Ohio's history, also includes nearly 300 bridge projects, 220 safety projects and more than 275 paving projects.

“While our number-one priority is to maintain what we already have, this year’s projects place a strong emphasis on improving the economy, safety, and overall quality of life in Ohio,” ODOT Director Jerry Wray indicate in a statement.

Among other initiatives, ODOT also is undertaking its first public-private partnership (P3) this year, teaming with Portsmouth Gateway Group to construct a $429-million bypass around Portsmouth that will complete the state’s missing link of the Appalachian Development Highway Scheduled to break ground this spring, the 16-mile, four-lane highway will extend from U.S. 23 north of Lucasville to U.S. 52 near Sciotoville. 

ODOT has indicated the P3 arrangemen accelerated the project by eight years, allowing it to avoid cost escalations while leveraging current competitive pricing conditions. Under a performance-based contract, Portsmouth Gateway Group will design, construct, finance, operate and maintain the highway.

Members of Portsmouth Gateway Group include ACS Infrastructure Development Inc. and contractor Dragados USA, both subsidiaries of Spanish firm ASC, a firm specializing in P3 infrastructure projects.  Plans call for Ohio to float  $231 million in public activity bonds on behalf of Portsmouth Gateway Group.

State transportation expenditures could grow in coming years. Earlier this month, the Ohio senate approved a $5.8-billion transportation plan for 2016 and 2017. The House previously approved a $5 billion spending plan.