The final pieces are now in place for the construction of the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway in Scioto County. The project is made possible by the first public-private partnership (P3) in Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) history. Construction is set to begin this summer and completed in 2019.
The Portsmouth Gateway Group will build the 16-mi. (25.75 m), four-lane limited access highway from U.S. Route 23 north of Lucasville to U.S. Route 52 near Sciotoville. The project has been in demand for decades and using innovative P3 financing allows ODOT to build it now and pay for it over 35 years, while still building other important projects around the state.
The new highway will complete the Appalachian Development Highway System in Ohio and will improve safety in and around the city of Portsmouth and Scioto County by taking heavy truck traffic off city streets. The project also provides a more direct route between Interstate 70 and I-64, allowing goods to flow more quickly into and through the region. Studies show round-trip travel between U.S. Route 23 and U.S. Route 52 will be reduced by more than a half-hour.
Since 2012, ODOT has been working to develop the project as a P3, which allows ODOT to accelerate the project by decades, and the department can avoid rising project costs by taking advantage of current competitive economic conditions.
The project’s financing is accomplished through the use of $227.36 million in tax exempt private activity bonds with another $208 million provided through a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or TIFIA, loan from the federal government. The TIFIA Loan is a low-interest loan provided to projects of national and regional significance.
Making ODOT history, the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway is the department’s largest, modern earthwork project to date. Construction crews expect to remove about 25 million cu. yds. (19.1 million cu m) of earth and rock and place another 25 million cu. yds. of embankment.