Shot in the arm for $1.3bn Texas road P3

Despite problematic procurement, a Texas toll road concession has attracted Macquarie, Meridiam and more.

Procurement for a billion dollar managed lanes project involving Texas State Highway 183 (SH 183) has been revamped and revitalised.

A second request for qualifications (RFQ) for the design, build, finance, operate and maintain (DBFOM) concession attracted marquee-name interest, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) revealed, with Fluor Corporation, Macquarie Group, Meridiam Infrastructure and Plenary Group lining up to bid.

For TxDOT, a year ago permitted to put the so-called ‘SH 183 Managed Lanes Project’ out to tender as a toll road public-private partnership (PPP; P3), the positive response is a promising turnaround. A previously released RFQ drew just one bidder: Cintra.

The response prompted TxDOT to petition the Texas Legislature for permission to rewrite the RFQ.

A spokesman for the Department in Austin, Texas, pointed out the SH 183 Managed Lane Project was revised in February to incorporate a “bigger, broader scope” following the earlier RFQ.

The spokesman said he suspected the present size of the project, now 9.3 miles, rather than 6.7 miles, encouraged a better response.

The first incarnation of the project called for a 52-year lease of SH 183, or ‘Airport Freeway,’ located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex from Texas State Highway 161 (SH 161) to Interstate Highway 35 East (I-35E).

According to TxDOT, the most recent RFQ for Airport Freeway project, a $1.35 billion P3, elicited interest from:

-‘SouthGate Mobility Partners,’ teaming Plenary Group and Kiewit Development Company;

-‘SH 183 Mobility Alliance,’ a consortium with Macquarie Capital and OHL Concesiones;

-‘Airport Expressway Partners,’ with Fluor Enterprises and Balfour Beatty Investments, and;

-‘SH Mobility Partners,’ teaming Meridiam Infrastructure, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System and Cintra.

The Department has not scheduled a request for proposals (RFP), or indicated when a preferred bidder will be named.