Ferrovial has completed and put into operation this week the expansion of the I-66 highway, in the State of Virginia, on the outskirts of the capital of the United States. The official inauguration will take place this Tuesday, November 29, but the opening of the new sections began in September and was completed on the 22nd, as announced by the Virginia Department of Transportation. The project, a 50-year concession, will mobilize a total of 3,700 million dollars (about 3,550 million euros, at current exchange rates), throughout its life, including about 2,300 million for construction plus other items.
The Washington area is one of the most traffic-congested areas in the United States, and I-66 through northern Virginia, which handles 200,000 vehicles a day, suffers from eight to ten hours of traffic jams. Therefore, the authorities decided to launch this public-private collaboration project that included financing, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of fast toll lanes.
The expansion runs for about 22 miles (about 35 kilometers) between Route 29, near Gainesville, and the Washington Beltway, I-495, in Fairfax County. Ferrovial owns 55.7% of the consortium, in which it has invested or committed a total of 996 million dollars, including the latest purchase of an additional 5.705% for 162 million. This price implies valuing 100% of the capital at 2,840 million euros and allowed Ferrovial to score a pre-tax capital gain of just over 1,000 million euros by adjusting the book value of its previous stake to the new valuation. In addition, the concession has assumed a debt of 1,772 million euros, according to Ferrovial’s accounts as of September 30.
The Express Mobility Partners (EMP) consortium, controlled by Ferrovial, put the first nine miles (14 kilometers) into service last September and this last week began operating the remaining 13 miles (21 kilometers). After the purchase of its participation from John Laing, the consortium is made up of Cintra (a subsidiary of Ferrovial), Meridiam and APG. The design-build contractor for the project is FAM Construction, a joint venture between Ferrovial Construccion and Allan Myers, VA.
Project figures include $2.3 billion for construction of the project, an initial outlay to the State to obtain the concession of $579 million to finance additional improvement projects in the corridor, $800 million to expand transportation service in the corridor, and $350 million for other I-66 corridor improvement projects over 50 years.
With the expansion, the highway includes three general use lanes without tolls and two express lanes in each direction with a state-of-the-art electronic open toll system. The toll is paid with transponders (EZ Pass) that cars must carry inside or through other formulas (on-line, with a mobile application…), but payment by card or cash is not allowed on the motorway itself. High occupancy vehicles (three or more occupants) may access the fast lanes at no cost, but must have the EZ Pass Flex model activated in high occupancy mode.
The project includes the expansion of the public transport service and park-and-ride parking (with some 4,000 new spaces), creating more multimodal travel options. Construction will provide 11 miles of new bike and pedestrian trails, including shared-use trails along I-66 that integrate with local trails, and new I-66 interchanges to improve bike and pedestrian paths . The project also includes intersection and design improvements that increase safety throughout the corridor.
Bet on the United States
The United States is the great investment bet of the group chaired by Rafael del Pino. At the end of 2021, Ferrovial had assets in the country for an amount of 12,988 million euros, more than half of the total of 24,896 million assets of the entire group. Its different construction divisions, concessions and airports have been winning large contracts in the country.
In addition to I-66, Cintra, the group’s toll road subsidiary, has important concessions, concentrated above all in the State of Texas (LBJ Highway, North Tarrant Express and North Tarrant Express 35W, all in the area of Dallas-Fort Worth). It also manages the express toll lanes on I-77 in North Carolina.
Webber, the US subsidiary of Ferrovial Construccion, is already working on 53 civil works projects in Texas, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina. In September, the expansion of the Interstate 36 highway located in Brazoria County, Texas (United States), was awarded for some 113 million dollars. It also announced a few months ago the award of the expansion of a highway in North Carolina for more than 278 million euros. In addition, it has been selected for the construction of four highways in Texas for 332 million euros in the counties of Kaufman, Denton, Collin and Comal. It also participates, along with Ferrovial Construccion, in the I-35 project in San Antonio for 1,500 million dollars (equivalent to around 1,273 million euros).
In the airport division, in June 2022, Ferrovial became the main shareholder (49% stake) of the company that will build and manage the concession for the new Terminal 1 at JFK Airport (New York). The project, which is being built in phases, will be completed by 2030.
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