URS Corp. of San Francisco has been awarded a procurement-engineering contract by the Texas Turnpike Authority, a division of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), to implement surface-transportation projects. Under the two-year contract, the primary role of the procurement engineer is to work with financial advisers and attorneys to assist TxDOT in the procurement of transportation concessions, which will utilize both the equity and bond markets to finance major improvements in the transportation infrastructure. Contracts for authority will be delivered through comprehensive development agreements, which are the equivalent of design-build-finance-operate agreements.
Traditionally in the U.S., only the ability to repay bond debt was considered when financing projects. TxDOT is raising capital for infrastructure improvements by using a model that features a significant equity component.
URS' first assignment is to assist TxDOT with procurement for the $2 billion US 281/Loop 1604 project in San Antonio. The project will reduce congestion by the construction and improvement of four major interchanges; the provision of additional lanes to Loop 1604, largely within the existing right-of-way; and two frontage road lanes in each direction. Only the additional lanes will be tolled. The improvements to US 281 will provide three mainline lanes and two frontage road lanes in each direction, with a similar tolling arrangement.