Richmond, Va. – Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the 495 Express Lanes project on the Capital Beltway in northern Virginia has awarded nearly $450 million in contracts to small and disadvantaged businesses.
“The 495 Express Lanes commitment to small, women, and minority-owned businesses is the largest in Virginia’s history for a single transportation project,” McDonnell said. “In these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever to support businesses in our local communities. The Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban-Fluor partnership to foster small-business participation in the 495 Express Lanes construction can be a model for other governments embarking on large, multiyear infrastructure improvements.”
Since 2007, VDOT, Transurban-Fluor and design-builder Fluor-Lane have focused on increasing small and disadvantaged business participation in the construction of the 495 Express Lanes, a five-year, $1.3 billion initiative to improve traffic flow along the Capital Beltway. Four new lanes, set to be completed in late 2012, will span a 14-mile stretch of the Beltway.
To date, the VDOT and Transurban-Fluor partnership has engaged 134 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) companies and 149 Small, Women, and Minority Owned (SWaM) companies. Approximately 75 percent of the small and disadvantaged businesses are headquartered in Virginia, and approximately 17 percent are headquartered in the local Maryland area or the District of Columbia. Moreover, the partnership continues to seek ways to work together to build upon existing commitments.
Before construction started, the team focused on creating contract opportunities tailored to increase DBE/SWaM participation. The partnership then identified and encouraged DBE and SWaM companies to submit bids by hosting Business Opportunity Sessions. Work scope sessions were held with prime contractors, diversity subcontractors, and suppliers to forge relationships and to encourage partnerships on opportunities within the project. Once construction started, the business development team shifted its focus to support awarded contractors to ensure their success.
Beyond just the small business contracting success, the total economic impact of the 495 Express Lanes project is significant. Construction is supporting 11,800 jobs and is expected to generate $2.7 billion in economic benefit for the Washington Metropolitan Area over the 2008-2013 period, according to a study by the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis. In addition to the immediate construction benefits, the completed project is expected to accelerate business growth and increase property values throughout the region.