The following is an article from the May 1, 2000 issue of Engineering News-Record


A PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT FIRM HOPES to obtain a license by June 1 from the state of Alabama to begin the permitting stage for a new toll road that will stretch the length of the state and eventually connect Mobile Bay to Chicago.

The project is the brainchild of Motivity Inc., Scottsboro, Ala., and its European ``affiliate,'' which has not yet been revealed. The company is providing capital for the proposed build-own-operate project and has hired Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas, New York City, as program manager and operator.

The highway will be built completely with private funding. ``No federal funds are wanted or needed,'' says Heidi Ueltzen, Motivity's president and CEO. ``Motivity is a corporation founded to bring this kind of construction financing to the U.S.'' Eliminating public money from the project will cut its delivery time in half, and possibly by three-quarters, she says. ``We hope to have it completed in seven to 10 years.''

According to Ueltzen, Motivity's 75-year-old European affiliate has completed many BOT projects in Europe and elsewhere. It will be identified at Expo 2000, which opens June 1 in Hannover, Germany. A budget also will be revealed.

The project is not just a toll road, but a transportation corridor for vehicles and utilities, says Terry Kazmerzak, assistant vice president and area manager of PB's Atlanta office. ``It also includes a high-speed mag-lev rail line for passengers and freight; utilities such as fiber optics and natural gas, water and sewer; and a dry pumpline for grain,'' he says.

PB has been advising Motivity on how to fast-track the design and construction of the project. ``It could be a deviation of design-build, similar to Utah's I-15,'' Kazmerzak says. Because the project is not conventional, it is difficult to compare it to others, he says. ``It's a huge project, and huge may not be a big enough word to describe it,'' he says.

Motivity hopes to use the process it developed to get the project moving in Alabama as a model to use in other states. The alignment to Chicago will cross Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. Motivity began with Alabama because its 320-mile length covers nearly half the distance to Chicago.

Alabama needed a new law to allow the state Dept. of Transportation to issue licenses for the development and operation of toll facilities and to allow the developer to set rates of the toll. Gov. Don Siegelman (D) signed the new measure into law in mid-April. The state is now developing licensing procedures.

Motivity's interest in the U.S. is not limited to this one north-south corridor, Ueltzen says. ``We will build a highway any place anyone wants it,'' she says.


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