Slashing Commutes in North Texas
When the LBJ Express (IH-635) opened in 1969, the north Texas highway was designed to handle about 180,000 vehicles per day. Population and business growth turned the critical loop around Dallas into one of the busiest roadways in the region. Transportation forecasts estimated 500,000 vehicles would travel the route daily by 2020. The expressway was in critical need of an upgrade.
Working to ease pressure on the expressway, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) turned to us to guide the procurement of a public-private partnership (P3) toll concession that is one of the largest P3 highway projects in U.S. history. We helped TxDOT enter into a successful agreement with a Cintra/Meridiam consortium to finance, design, build, operate and maintain a $2.7 billion project to improve a 17-mile corridor along IH-635 and IH-35 E. The project features a combination of four main lanes and two to three continuous frontage road lanes in each direction, along with two to three managed toll lanes in each direction that will use congestion pricing to keep traffic moving at 50 mph.
The project reached financial close ahead of schedule in 2010. Financing included $490 million in public funds, $672 million in equity, an $850 million federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan, and $606 million in Private Activity Bonds (PABs). In 2015, Fitch Ratings affirmed the consortium's PABs and TIFIA loan at BBB-, reflecting Fitch's expectation that the project will be delivered on schedule and within budget.
The first managed toll lanes opened to traffic in late 2013. The entire expressway was completed in summer 2015. In addition to cutting commuters' travel times, the revamped highway is credited with helping to breathe life into the north Texas commercial real estate market by easing travel in and out of the bustling region.
The LBJ Express project has helped to validate toll concession P3s as a viable method for delivering crucial transportation projects in the United States.
We continue to assist TxDOT with contract administration issues in connection with the project.
- The first project to receive federal tolling authorization under the Express Lanes Demonstration Program.
HONORS & AWARDS
- "P3 Co-Project of the Year" | American Road and Transportation Builders Association, 2010