HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Could the operators of the Downtown and Midtown tunnels who collect Hampton Roads drivers’ tolls be sold to another company?
Elizabeth River Crossings could be for sale.
10 On Your Side has learned ERC’s parent company Macquarie Group is actively seeking a financial advisor to evaluate ERC’s future.
Two well-placed sources confirm a financial advisor will be brought in to evaluate options for Macquarie.
Portsmouth Del. Steve Heretick, (D-Portsmouth), has put in legislation figuring out a way to relieve tunnel tolls.
“We want to get out of the tunnel deal as cheaply as possible,” he said. “What that is going to amount to is a matter of discussion, since it has been publicly announced that ERC is for sale.”
ERC is not for sale yet, but it could happen. WAVY News went to the local ERC headquarters, but CEO Doug Wilson referred 10 On Your Side to corporate.
Here is a statement from ERC’s parent company, Macquarie Group:
“It is the policy of both Skanska and Macquarie not to comment on the divestment potential for individual assets in our PPP project portfolios.”– DAVID FRANECKI, VICE PRESIDENT MACQUARIE GROUP
Our source told 10 On Your Side the Macquarie thought process is the Midtown Tunnel has been built, the infrastructure is complete, and is operating. The thought is to start looking at options — which could include a sale.
The Macquarie statement continues: “The companies are continuously evaluating strategic alternatives for mature projects where construction is complete and operations are stable.”
Heretick said he is very aware of what the questions might be on a sale.
“With the state and secretary of transportation busy trying to understand what the terms of that deal might be, so the commonwealth can potentially help participate in that process to take out some of the tolls. That process is, of course, very preliminary,” he said.
“If and when there is an agreement to sell an asset, the companies would make a formal disclosure to the market,” Franecki, of Macquarie, continued.
Heretick and Virginia want to be ready if that sale happens, and do all that is possible to give some benefit in favor of taxpayers.
“There are discussions going on with the secretary of transportation on possible financing models to help deal with that,” Heretick said.
Again, this is very early in the exploratory process, and it’s unclear what exactly will happen. Maybe nothing. However, there is a market for infrastructure investments in America, and billions of dollars in capital to do it.