VDOT News - Statewide
Dec. 30, 2020
Elizabeth River Crossings Sale to Abertis Infraestructuras Finalized
RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) today announced that Abertis Infraestructuras, in consortium with Manulife Investment Management, has finalized the acquisition of 100% of the share capital of Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners II (“MIP II”) and Skanska.
As a result, Abertis will operate and maintain the Downtown and Midtown tunnels in Hampton Roads, which provide a vital transportation link between Norfolk and Portsmouth, as well as the MLK Expressway.
Abertis is a global leader in toll road management based in Spain, with over 8,600 kilometers of roads in 16 countries in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Abertis is continually investing in technology and smart engineering to make sure customers have a safe, comfortable, fast experience. Committed to research and innovation, Abertis combines the advances in high capacity roads with new technologies to drive innovative solutions to the challenges of the mobility of the future.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with the consortium of Abertis and Manulife Investment Management within the transportation sector of our Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Working together as partners with the Hampton Roads region is essential to delivering safe, reliable infrastructure and providing excellent service.”
“We look forward to partnering with Abertis to continue delivering an effective transportation solution in the Hampton Roads region,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen C. Brich. “VDOT has completed the consent review, which ensures that the Elizabeth River Tunnels will be maintained by a capable, experienced concessionaire committed to safe and effective continuity of operations, maintenance, and customer service. We have also confirmed there is a planned, seamless transfer of operations to Abertis, with no adverse impacts to customers or the ongoing operation and maintenance of the facility.”
“Abertis looks forward to working for the benefit of local communities and building on a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship with the VDOT, which is one of the most established and significant grantors of road infrastructures in the USA,” said Abertis CEO José Aljaro.
Since taking office in January 2018, the Northam administration has focused on interrelated policy goals that include further reduction of future tolls, construction of express lanes without the risk of ERC-related costs, and high levels of customer service. These policy objectives were reinforced with 2019 budget language passed by the General Assembly that required the study of potential opportunities to mitigate the financial burden on the commuting public at the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels.
“The sale of ERC to Abertis and Manulife Investment Management is yet another opportunity to build on the work being done in the Hampton Roads region,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine.
Prior to the sale, ERC agreed to amend the comprehensive agreement to incorporate three changes:
- No toll increases will be implemented on the Elizabeth River Tunnels until at least January 2022 in recognition of the COVID-19 economic impacts on the region. Tolls will not be increased on January 1, 2021 as previously anticipated.
- There will be a 10-year extension of the Toll Relief Program, which will last through 2037. The Toll Relief Program provides $500,000 annually to help offset the toll burden on Norfolk and Portsmouth residents most financially impacted by the project.
- Additionally, the previously implemented billing and customer service practices, which include the monthly billing process and limit administrative fees to the monthly statement, were incorporated by the amendment. These practices offer the facility users the greatest opportunity to pay lower costs for toll transactions and avoid large administrative fees.
“I thank Governor Northam and Secretary Valentine for their hard work to minimize the negative impact that the tunnel tolls are having on our citizens” said Portsmouth Mayor John L. Rowe, Jr. “Because of their efforts, the new tunnel owners will have a greater understanding of the economic impact of the tolls on our citizens. We look forward to working with the new owners.”
The ERC sale agreement reached last month between the owners, MIP II and Skanska, and Abertis and Manulife Investment Management was subject to regulatory and other closing conditions, including a consent review by the VDOT as required by the comprehensive agreement.
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