Thursday, February 26, 2009
Expansion of LBJ-635 in Dallas, with new toll lanes, approved by Texas Transportation Commission
LBJ will be rebuilt by a team of developers led by Spain toll road company Cintra.
The Texas Transportation Commission voted Thursday 5-0 to conditionally award the New LBJ project to LBJ Development Partners -- another step toward a partnership with LBJ Development Partners to finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the 13-mile LBJ-635 corridor. The project will add new toll lanes as well as re-do existing lanes.
LBJ Development Partners will rebuild the LBJ-635 corridor using an innovative new design, enabling the new highway to be constructed while minimizing the need for additional right of way. This unique design features six depressed lanes (three lanes in each direction) that will operate as managed lanes and eight reconstructed main lanes cantilevered above the managed lanes. In addition, the project includes two-lane frontage roads in each direction, adding a third lane in several sections, for a total of 18-20 lanes. Construction is expected to take approximately five years to complete.
“Partnering with the private sector allows us to stretch $445 million taxpayer dollars to deliver an asset worth approximately $4 billion to the region. Innovative project development strategies, like the one used for the New LBJ, stimulate our economy, provide thousands of jobs and improve regional mobility and air quality,” said Texas Transportation Commission Chair Deirdre Delisi. “This is certainly a victory for North Texas residents, businesses and visitors.”
The involvement of local officials has guided planning for the New LBJ and will continue to influence the project even after completion. Throughout the development of the comprehensive development agreement, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and Regional Transportation Council (RTC), City of Dallas and Dallas County contributed significantly. Additionally, the NCTCOG/RTC managed lane policy will govern toll rates and collections. The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) will handle toll collections on the managed lanes.
“This project belongs to the region. Local officials, business leaders and citizen groups have been involved in the development of our plans to rebuild the LBJ for years,” said Bill Hale, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Dallas district engineer. “The conditional award of this contract is an important step toward addressing the serious transportation problems our region faces.”
LBJ Development Partners is a partnership of American and international organizations, including multiple Texan firms. LBJ Development Partners won the conditional award because, after a thorough evaluation process, their proposal was determined to provide the best value for Texans and the greatest return on the investment of limited taxpayer funds. The proposal review process, guided by state statute, includes multiple safeguards to ensure that reviewers reach a fair and impartial recommendation.
“When we talk about millions and billions of dollars, the impact of that amount is fuzzy. Compare the project’s estimated value of $4 billion in North Texas with the expected stimulus package transportation funding amount - approximately $2.5 billion to the entire state. The contrast brings the full impact of what this means to our local economy into focus,” said Dallas City Council member and Regional Transportation Council Chair Linda Koop.
The state will retain ownership of the New LBJ at all times and LBJ Development Partners will be required to meet all federal and state regulations throughout the partnership. While LBJ Development Partners will retain the bulk of the toll revenue during the term of the 52-year contract, NTTA will be paid to handle toll collection. Additionally, if revenue is sufficient, the region will take in a portion of toll revenue, as defined by the final contract, for use on future North Texas
transportation projects. As with any contract with the private sector, TxDOT will conduct regular reviews and audits to ensure safety and quality is maintained.