Acceleration of the Commencement of the Thimble Shoal Parallel Tunnel Construction Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission

WHEREAS, in 1987, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Commission began the planning process for Parallel Crossing Project completion; and,

WHEREAS, in 1990, the General Assembly unanimously approved the Project in two separate phases, the first phase being completed in 1999; and,

WHEREAS, in 2011, the Commission determined that construction of parallel tunnels was necessary based on many factors including concern for the safety of the traveling public, the lack of a viable alternative route in the event of closure from catastrophe, vehicular or maritime accidents, or mechanical failure attributable to the 50-year age of the existing tunnels, and lane closures exceeding 1500 hours annually caused by accidents, incidents, oversize loads and maintenance in the tunnels, as well as  improvement in the level of customer service; and,

WHEREAS, in 2011, the Commission, based on then existing financing models, established a FY 2021 start date for the Thimble Shoal Parallel Tunnel construction (“the Project”); and,

WHEREAS, the low interest rate market for tax-exempt debt, the decreased construction costs for large-scale infrastructure projects, and similar local projects now underway provide an exceptional opportunity for infrastructure construction similar to the Project; and,

WHEREAS, the current plans of finance models presented to the Commission have uniformly improved over those presented in 2011, because of lower interest rates and available federal and state financing sources that allow for a lower cost of borrowing and an accelerated construction timeline, as shown on the models prepared by Public Financial Management, Inc., (PFM), attached as Schedule A; and,

WHEREAS, the PFM plan of finance models permit the commencement of construction of the Thimble Shoal Parallel Tunnel as early as during FY 2017, which begins July 1, 2016, with only a modest increase in the average toll per vehicle; and,

WHEREAS, the Commission last increased tolls in 2004 and the matrix, attached as Schedule B, substantiates that the toll rates per mile on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel are significantly lower than other domestic toll facilities with far less complex infrastructure and operating and maintenance environment than the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED That the construction of the Thimble Shoal Parallel Tunnel be commenced as early as financially practicable  under a Design, Build project construction contract model; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED That, to fund the cost of constructing the Thimble Shoal Parallel Tunnel, the Commission proposes to increase the average toll per vehicle by approximately 10 % beginning January 1, 2014, with 10% increases every five years thereafter.  The January 1, 2014 toll rate adjustment will include the Commission’s adjustments adopted at its February 2013 meeting, as well as additional adjustments by vehicle class individually shown on Schedule C. The adjustments include congestion toll rates that are greater for Friday through Sunday passenger car traffic during the peak season of May 15 through September 15, and increases the total round – trip rate by only $ 1 collectively, as attached; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED That the proposed overall toll rate schedule adjustment be publicized and communicated to the citizens of the Eastern Shore and the Hampton Roads area, as required by the Commission’s Public Information Policy, during the month of June 2013, and be presented for formal adoption  at  its July 2013 Commission meeting; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED That, to that end, Staff is hereby authorized to request a supplemental agreement proposal from Jacobs, the District’s General Consulting Engineer, to complete the (i) Project design to a completion level that is determined based on a risk allocation Project assessment, (ii) National Environmental Protection Act document approval, (iii) Design Build Procurement Request for Qualifications documents and (iv) Design Build Procurement Request For Proposal documents.  This proposal shall be presented for approval at its August 2013 Commission meeting; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED That, following formal adoption of the adjusted toll rate schedule, Staff is authorized to work with the District’s general counsel, bond counsel, and financial advisor to commence preparing the procurement documentation that will enable the Commission to authorize a (i) Request For Proposal(s) for the construction management of the Project and (ii) Request for Proposal (s) for all underwriting, traffic and revenue studies, verification agent, and any other professional services deemed necessary to effect the toll revenue bond issuance (s) that nets the necessary proceeds  in addition to the District cash and investments on hand to provide for the Project.