Challenging the Wisdom of the Trans Texas Corridor.

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Texas DOT gets 2 investor bids for TTC69


Texas DOT (TxDOT) have two proposals for development of the Trans Texas Corridor 69, their second mega-project after TTC 35. They announced the bids as coming from:

  • Cintra, teamed with Citigroup, Earth Tech, Blanton & Associates, Maunsell, Othon and W.W. Webber - all under the name Bluebonnet Infrastructure Investors

  • Zachry American Infrastructure and ACS Infrastructure Development, teamed with Steer Davies Gleave, UBS Securities, Dannenbaum Engineering, ACI Consulting, Sociedad Ibercia de Construcciones Electricas, Dragados, and William Brothers Construction

TxDOT plan to complete an initial review of the two proposals by the end of July. Qualified proposals will be formally shortlisted.

Then if approved by Texas Transportation Commission the top policymaking body, TxDOT would request detailed proposals, and a selection would be made of a "strategic partner" as the winner is called - planned for the end of 2007.

The proposals received now are "conceptual proposals" with a rough outline of plans describing how each team would nance, design, construct, operate and maintain TTC69.

No competing free expressway

The TTC69 corridor unlike TTC35 has no parallel expressway standard highway. That should make it more viable as a standalone tollroad.

It is the route of a much ballyhooed but unfunded I-69 corridor from the Mexican border in the Laredo-McAllen area by Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast through Houston, Nacogdoches, toward Texarkana in the far northeast of the state. It is a substantial part of a larger so-called NAFTA Highway which would run up the Mississippi valley crossing the river south of Memphis TN and plugging into the existing I-69 near Indianapolis IN. From there I-69 is connected to Detroit and via H401 to Toronto. The Daniels administration in Indiana is planning to build Indiana's segment of I-69 from Indianapolis southwest to Evanston with a toll concession.

Ballyhooed in US Congress for years but no $s where the mouths were

For at least two decades the US Congress has put the I-69 on its lists of Congressional High Priority projects funding little more than minor planning studies. TxDOT already have a fullscale environmental permitting and route selection process under way to support the project.

The TTC69 corridor is 1,000km long (600mi).

Trans Texas Corridors in their most fully developed form incorporate a 300m+ (1,000ft) right of way, separate roadways for long combination trucks (LCVs) and cars, railroads and pipelines. But as a practical matter they are going to be built in stages and with components that can be financed.

The first big corridor TTC35 paralleling I-35 Laredo, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, OK line is in a project development stage with a Cintra-Zachry partnership with which TxDOT has a "comprehensive development agreement."

TxDOT recently completed an impressively thorough preliminary environmental impact statement and a narrowing down of route options for TTC35 in hardly more than a year.

TxDOT's processes of enlisting investor "partners" may or may not develop into a toll concession. In the case of TTC35 the Cintra-Zachry team is so far committed only to a few million dollars in project development and there is as yet no concession agreement. However they have an inside running, perhaps even a right of first refusal when the process gets to the stage of a negotiating a toll concession. In other cases TxDOT take the traffic and revenue risk itself and there is no concession, but perhaps large design-build and operations contracts.

TOLLROADSnews 2006-06-14


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