New Concessionaires for Tunnels in Norfolk, Virginiaeditor@aashto.org January 8, 2021 0 COMMENTS
The Virginia Department of Transportation noted that Spanish firm Abertis Infraestructuras, in consortium with Manulife Investment Management, recently finalized the acquisition of 100 percent of the share capital of Elizabeth River Crossings or ERC.
[Above photo by the Virginia DOT.]
That entity operates and maintains the Downtown and Midtown tunnels in Hampton Roads, which provide a vital transportation link between Norfolk and Portsmouth, as well as the MLK Expressway.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with the consortium of Abertis and Manulife Investment Management within the transportation sector of our Commonwealth,” said Shannon Valentine, Virginia’s secretary of transportation, in a statement. “Working together as partners with the Hampton Roads region is essential to delivering safe, reliable infrastructure and providing excellent service. [It is] yet another opportunity to build on the work being done in the Hampton Roads region.”
The Virginia DOT noted that three important changes were agreed upon before finalizing the ERC sale:
- 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.
- 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.
- The new concessionaires will maintain previously implemented billing and customer service practices, which includes monthly billing to limit administrative fees, as they offer users the “greatest opportunity” to pay lower costs for toll transactions and avoid large fees.
“We look forward to partnering with Abertis to continue delivering an effective transportation solution in the Hampton Roads region,” said Stephen Birch, VDOT Commissioner.
“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,” he said.
“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,” Birch noted.