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    Posted: 14 Jun 2010 at 11:38am
Its a slow process. Start off by saying the contractor will build the HOT lanes. Then ever so slowly, the Commonwealth begins to add public funding in response to campaign contributions. First Tim Kaine and now Bob McDonnell. Seems all that private funding for transportation isn't so private after all. Wioth enough time and campaign contributions, it looks like Virginia will eventually build these toll lanes themselves and then turn them over to this Australian company. What a deal. See the news article at:

Here is the text from this article below:

Residents could pay portion to build I-95/395 HOT lanes
By Uriah A. Kiser
Published: June 13, 2010

Under a plan now being reviewed by state transportation officials, Virginia taxpayers could be slapped with at least part of the bill for building toll lanes on Interstate 95 and 395.

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and state transportation secretary Sean T. Connaughton support converting High Occupancy Vehicle lanes that run between Dumfries and the Pentagon to HOT lanes.

Before the plan to build the lanes was placed on hold last year, transportation officials said a private firm would build the lanes and harbor the construction costs.

The Virginia Department of Transportation presented to the secretary this month, at his request, a new report examining the financial viability of building the lanes. Some of the scenarios in the document
include using state money to fund a portion of the construction, while others rely solely on private money, said Connaughton. After they are reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration, the plans
could become available to the public in the next few weeks.

The renewed interest in I-95/395 HOT lanes comes after the Virginia GOP last month received large cash donations from Texas-based Fluor and Australia’s Transurban — the companies already building
HOT lanes on the Capital Beltway.

Last year, VDOT said these were the same companies that would build HOT lanes on I-95/395.

“The governor made resurrecting this project part of his transportation platform he came out with over a year ago. I point to the 95/395 HOT lanes project as my poster boy for what has gone wrong with
the [Public-Private Transportation Act],” said Connaughton. “This project was actually put on the table eight years ago and we still have not gotten to a comprehensive agreement to either move forward
with the project or to terminate it.”

Virginia’s reputation among private firms who could choose to invest in state infrastructure has been damaged during the I-95/395 HOT lane debate, said Connaughton.

Republicans in the state might have every reason to support HOT lanes in Northern Virginia, as Fluor and Transurban last month collectively donated $20,000 to the House Republican Campaign
Committee, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Fluor also gave $25,000 to McDonnell during his 2009 campaign and $15,000 to his inaugural committee in 2010, according to VPAP.

Transurban has not donated to Virginia Democrats this year, but Fluor has donated $13,500 to state Democrats, according to VPAP.

The I-95/395 HOT lane project stalled after VDOT said Fluor-Transurban were having problems finding investors for the project. Afterwards, Arlington County filed a lawsuit against state and federal officials
claiming that a study on how the lanes would affect the environment was not completed and that the lanes would have an adverse affect on residents who live along I-395.

If the lanes are built, a third lane will be squeezed into the two HOV lanes between Prince William Parkway and the Pentagon — increasing the road’s capacity — and then the lanes would be extended
south to Spotsylvania County making for a 56-mile toll road.

On the HOT lanes, drivers would be able to pay a yet-to-be determined fee to buy their way out of traffic congestion, while buses and drivers in vehicles with two or more passengers would be able to use the lanes for free during rush hours.

The lanes would still include a major mass transit component, said Connaughton, something residents worried might be cut from the plan when it was delayed last year.

Staff writer Uriah A. Kiser can be reached at 703-530-3905.

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