Each year, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) recognizes one project that exemplifies the value that public-private partnerships (P3) bring to U.S. transportation development. As a P3 between the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and I-595 Express, LLC, this year’s recipient was the I-595 Corridor Improvements project.
The I-595 Corridor Improvements constitute the largest single transportation project completed in Florida. This project is also the first availability payment concession in the United States and the first public-private partnership (P3) transportation project in Florida.
Sustaining the Region’s Growth
The advancement of the I-595 improvements as a single P3 project accelerated the much needed traffic relief to the area as well as reducing the overall traffic impacts during construction by implementing the improvements as a single P3 project. The original plan for implementation was to build the improvements over 20 years with 15 individual projects.
Interstate 595 is part of the Florida’s Strategic Intermodal System and serves as the major east-west link in Broward County. It provides a direct connection between the region’s major expressways: I-95, Florida’s Turnpike, I-75, and the Sawgrass Expressway while connecting the western communities with the airport and seaport to the east. Since the mainline opening in 1989, I-595 has endured a steady increase in traffic volume that has led to congestion in several areas. To ensure sufficient capacity, FDOT and its team developed improvements to help sustain the region’s growth.
The improvements included reconstructing and widening the 10.5-mile mainline corridor and the addition of tolled reversible express lanes with direct connections to Florida’s Turnpike. The project also included reconstruction and widening of Florida’s Turnpike for approximately two miles as well as improvements and modifications to nine interchanges within the I-595 corridor. The reversible express lanes are tolled at varying rates throughout the day to provide for continual free traffic flow. These improvements were successfully completed on time while minimizing disruptions of the 200,000 vehicles traveling the corridor every day.
This project epitomizes the benefits of P3 by advancing much needed transportation improvements by allowing private financing to make up the state’s funding shortfall that would have delayed many of the improvements by 20 years or more. The FDOT also capitalized on the appropriate risk transfers and innovations that made the project less expensive and quicker to construct which also allowed for early earning of revenues with the express lanes. The success of the project truly highlights the partnership aspect of P3 that is critical for successful programs. This project is a milestone for Florida, and the successful completion has helped pave the way for future P3 projects in Florida and the United States.
RS&H served as owner’s representative for the Florida Department of Transportation on the project, which also included deployment of Various Intelligent Transportation Systems elements for the express lanes and the general purpose lanes. The project reached completion in 2014 and quickly became an archetype for P3s, demonstrating the advantage of allowing private financing to supplement state funding.