Texas eager for input to better toll road bid

The Texas Department of Transportation is asking for industry feedback on its SH 183 P3. A prior RFQ earned interest from just one potential partner.

Attention infrastructure industry – Texas has a question for you: what’s it going to take to get you bid to on the ‘SH 183 Managed Lanes Project?’

That’s a dilemma the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has been desperate to crack after the last request for qualifications (RFQ) for its long-suffering effort to improve State Highway 183 (SH 183) garnered just a single respondent: toll road kingpin Cintra.

Now, TxDOT is publishing another RFQ for the would-be public-private partnership (PPP; P3). But this time, TxDOT isn’t seeking a bidder—it’s asking for advice.

Spokesman Mark Cross told Infrastructure Investor TxDOT is issuing the RFQ to find out what would make the P3 for SH 183, commonly called ‘Airport Freeway,’ “palatable” to the industry.

Cross went on to explain the Austin-based Department would go on to position the feedback generated from the RFQ as the basis for its argument to the Texas Legislature that the nature and scope of the Airport Freeway project has to be redone. 

Cross said TxDOT is hoping to get permission to redraft the mandate by the time the current legislative session has adjourned in June. The Department will then move ahead with a request for proposals (RFP).

Last November, Cintra emerged as the lone bidder after 12 consortia were shortlisted from a request for information (RFI). That June, the passage of State Bill 1420 (SB 1420) let Texas toll rundown SH 183.

With its initial $1.8 billion price tag, the SH 183 Managed Lanes Project was conceived as a 52-year concession agreement covering a 6.7-mile stretch of the Texas road, adjacent to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The P3 is now being touted as a $1.4 billion undertaking to expand a 13.5-mile span of SH 183 from the western part of Dallas County to the eastern end of Tarrant County. TxDOT characterised the project as a “design, build and maintain” mandate.

Spokesman Cross said he could not determine when TxDOT might publish a RFP.