RFQ out for $4.7bn Texas road

The Texas Department of Transportation has set a March 23 deadline for consortia interested in participating in its highly anticipated Interstate 35 project, a possible public-private partnership. The mandate had been postponed since September.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has released a request for qualifications (RFQ) for the Interstate 35 (I-35) project in Texas, with interested parties asked to respond by March 23.

The RFQ aims to find a partner “to develop, design and construct, and to, potentially, finance” a 28-mile stretch of the I-35 and is available on the TxDOT website. The transport agency in its RFQ surmised that “giving the private sector optimal flexibility” is “the best way” to carry out the project.

With that, the department has allowed that the road project will be procured either as a design-build development or a toll road concession. If the latter is chosen, the toll road would involve a 52-year concession, TxDOT indicated in the RFQ.

The I-35 project – stretching north from Denton, Texas, southward to Dallas – has an estimated cost of $4.7 billion and will entail the “reconstruction and widening” of both general purpose and managed lane traffic.

As of now, the public sector would provide about $639 million in financing for the project, with TxDOT indicating it would work to identify additional public funding before the issuance of a request for proposals.

The release of the RFQ has encountered some disruption. Originally, the transport agency put off issuing the RFQ until September 2011, after a successful request for information campaign in June. Then in October, TxDOT said it expected to release the mandate in the fall.

Several companies and consortia – including Cintra/Meridiam; Macquarie; Fluor Enterprise/Balfour Beatty/Kiewit Infrastructure Group; Shikum & Binui; CH2M; ACS/ Austin Bridge and Road/Lochner; Acciona; Zachry Construction; and OHL Concessiones – have expressed interest in a potential I-35 PPP.