The Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (VTIB) was established by the General Assembly in 2011. VTIB, a special non-reverting, revolving loan fund, was created for the purpose of making loans and providing other financial assistance to localities, certain private entities and other eligible borrowers to finance transportation projects. The VTIB is directed by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, with VRA serving as the financial manager. In this role, VRA (along with the Virginia Department of Transportation - VDOT) monitors the recipient's ongoing financial condition and ability to operate, maintain facilities and repay the debt. VRA also is responsible for semi-annual reporting on the program to the General Assembly.
When the City of Chesapeake faced a funding decision on its top transportation priority, the Dominion Boulevard project, the VTIB seemed like the perfect fit. After review by VDOT and VRA, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved this project as the first one in the state to be funded through the VTIB. The Dominion Boulevard project is a 3.8 mile, fully controlled access transportation corridor connecting Route 17 to both Interstates 64 and 464. Because the Dominion Boulevard project includes tolling facilities, it satisfies a central purpose of the bank, which is to encourage the investment of both public and private funds to develop transportation projects and also to provide an alternative source of financing for the Commonwealth's present and future transportation needs. One of the reasons why the VTIB is such an attractive option for Chesapeake and other borrowers is due to the wide range of projects that are eligible for funding, including port and airport, freight, passenger and commuter rail, mass transit and toll facilities.
Chesapeake intends to use a $152 million loan from the VTIB to help fund the Dominion Boulevard project's overall cost of $345.2 million. The remainder of the cost will be covered by toll revenue bonds and other funding sources. The Dominion Boulevard project will fund several key infrastructure improvements: the stretch of Dominion Boulevard from Cedar Road to the I-64/Oak Grove Connector will be widened from 2 lanes to 4 lanes; the 2-lane Dominion Boulevard Drawbridge will be replaced by a new 4-lane fixed-span, high-rise bridge; and new, grade-separated interchanges will be added at Cedar Road, Bainbridge Road and Great Bridge Boulevard.
This project is a great example of how VDOT and VRA are using the VTIB to help Chesapeake and other localities fund critical infrastructure projects that ease congestion and improve public safety. In addition to improving traffic congestion for drivers in Chesapeake, the Dominion Boulevard project will provide an economic boost to the entire region, with the potential of creating over 13,000 jobs. Without the low-interest loan available through the VTIB, it might have been difficult for Chesapeake to fast-track this high priority project. Importantly, this new corridor will improve traffic flow in and out of the area's busy port terminals and also will help carry defense-related traffic between the many military installations throughout Hampton Roads.