Virginia’s Dept. of Transportation intends to use a public-private partnership to add two high-occupancy toll lanes in each direction on a 14-mile segment of Virginia’s Capital Beltway. The congestion-prone highway, Interstate 495, is a 70-mile loop around Washington, D.C., that continues into Maryland. The toll lanes will be added to a section from the Springfield interchange north almost to Maryland.

VDOT Commissioner Philip Shucet announced a comprehensive agreement with Fluor Corp., Aliso Viejo, Calif., and Australian consultant Transurban on April 29. The partnership would fund 15% of the design-build-operate-maintain deal, estimated at $900-million. Toll revenue would retire the debt.

HOT lanes would be free to carpoolers, buses and emergency vehicles. All others would pay variably priced tolls, except for large trucks, which would be banned. Construction could begin as early as 2006, if the concept survives financial and environmental studies now under way.

New York City-based Vollmer Associates is conducting a traffic and projection study for VDOT, says Herb Morgan, vice president of operations for Fluor. It is due by Oct. 28.

The Federal Highway Administration is reviewing a draft environmental impact statement. Initial rights-of-way acquisition estimates called for the expansion to take some 300 homes. The private team’s proposal reduces the loss to fewer than 10 homes, says Malcolm Kerley, VDOT chief engineer.

Fluor originally submitted an unsolicited proposal in 2002, and followed up with a more comprehensive offer the following year (ENR 12/20/04 p. 13). The U.S.-Australian team is also chasing other toll road deals in Virginia and Texas.