The Transportation Commission approved on Wednesday, Feb. 28, a Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) with Cintra Concessiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte that will provide more than $5 billion for State Highway 121 and other badly needed transportation projects in north Texas.
The agreement will bring completion of the SH 121 project by 2011--a quarter century faster than would have been possible with traditional gasoline tax revenue.
"Austin, we have a solution," said Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Texas Council of Governments in announcing that Cintra was being recommended to the Transportation Commission as the best of three private-sector proposals to complete and maintain the 26-mile Lewisville to McKinney toll project.
Three firms have been competing for the project since last summer. TxDOT evaluated the proposals, using criteria developed by the Metroplex's Regional Transportation Council (RTC), basing 80% of the score on price, 10% on scheduling and 10% on technical expertise.
After hearing the details of the Cintra proposal, the five-member commission voted unanimously to approve it.
"This is an incredible transportation milestone not only for north Texas, but the whole state," said TxDOT Executive Director Mike Behrens. "Regional government officials, not Austin or Washington, made this happen."
The agreement with Cintra, a joint venture with a fund advised by JPMorgan Asset Management, is expected to close this summer. It will bring north Texas a $2.1 billion concession payment plus $560 million for design and construction of SH 121 in Denton and Collins Counties. In addition,
Cintra will pay $700 million in lease payments over the next 49 years as well as $1.7 billion for operation and maintenance of the toll road.
The CDA will allow for completion of SH 121 some 25 years sooner than would have been possible with gasoline tax revenue said Bill Hale, TxDOT's Dallas District engineer. The Collin County segment of SH 121 should be finished by the fall 2009, with an interchange at U.S. 75 completed a year later, followed by an interchange with the Dallas North Tollway by 2011.
Hale said the "upfront money" from Cintra will allow the Regional Transportation Council to fund other needed projects in the region. The Metroplex's RTC will determine how the money will be spent.
The next step in the process is final environmental approval of the Collin County segment of the project, followed this summer by formal closure of the contractual agreements and receipt of the $2.1 billion concession payment.