Texas signs contract for $1bn DFW Connector project

It is the third billion dollar-plus road development contract executed by Texas this year. The other two include the $2.7 billion “New LBJ” project and the $2 billion North Tarrant Expressway phase one project.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has signed an agreement with a private construction group to develop, design and construct a $1 billion highway in the state’s populous Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Known as the DFW Connector, the 8.4 mile road will rebuild the corridor connecting the Dallas suburbs of Southlake and Grapevine and the area around Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

Northgate Constructors, a consortium of construction companies, will develop the corridor. The consortium is led by Kiewit Texas Construction of Fort Worth and Zachry Construction Corporation of San Antonio, in addition to other US-based construction companies.

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They will design and build the corridor but TxDOT will operate and maintain the highway after completion. Work on the project will begin this year in 2009 and be complete by 2014, according to a TxDOT project fact sheet.

TxDOT said in a statement that the project is being built without private funds. Instead, TxDOT and regional agencies will put in $667 million for the project, the Texas Transportation Commission will put in $250 million from federal stimulus funds and $107 million will come from a bond issuance by the Commission.

The DFW Connector is the third major road project executed this year under TxDOT’s method for partnering with the private sector known as a “comprehensive development agreement” (CDA). CDAs cover both public-private partnerships with and without concessions for road assets.

The two other large-scale CDAs executed by TxDOT this year include the $2.7 billion “New LBJ” project and the $2 billion North Tarrant Expressway phase one project. The New LBJ involves financing, designing and constructing the 13-mile LBJ I-635 corridor expansion in North Texas.  The North Tarrant Express involves financing, designing  and constructing 13 miles of improvements along interstate 820 and state highway 121.

Both projects were awarded to a consortium that included European infrastructure investor Meridiam and Spanish toll road developer Cintra. Unlike the DFW Connector, the projects include concessions for the operations of the roads.