DFW Connector toll deal DOUBLE TAXES Texans

Link to article here. As a reminder, “managed lanes” means toll lanes that presumably “manage” the flow of traffic by pricing the poor and middle class off public roads in the name of a congestion-free commute for those who can afford the extra tax. What’s even more of an outrage is the fact that stimulus money will be used to build the road, but you won’t be able to drive on it without paying a DOUBLE TAX! So much for stimulus money going to help the economically distressed…

Huge DFW Connector in Dallas has small toll component
Posted on Fri, 2009-10-09

DFW Connector, a huge new expressway complex on the northern and northwestern edge of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) will have a small toll component, but construction of the $1.02b project is being financed with tax revenues. Previously known as the TX114/TX121 project, it involves a complete rebuild and expansion of some 13.5km, 8.4 miles of these two expressways centered on where they merge and diverge, including modernization of six interchanges, two of them big 3 and 4 level jobs.

6.4km (4 miles) of the combined roads and TX114 will contain 2×2 toll “managed lanes.”

TxDOT calls the contract for the DFW Connector a “comprehensive development agreement” (CDA), their infinitely elastic Orwellian term covering any arrangement whatever from minor project development consulting and environmental permitting, through regular construction, design-build, through to full blown 50 year DBFO toll concessions.

TxDOT announced they this week “executed a comprehensive development agreement” – actually this one is a plain vanilla design-build contract – for the DFW Connector Oct 6 with North Gate Constructors, a consortium led by Kiewit and Zachry construction companies.

These companies were conditionally awarded the contract back in March while arguments raged about financing and the role of the private sector.

TxDOT announces: “While the DFW Connector is a CDA project, it is being built without private funds.”

(TERMINOLOGY: one benefit of the demise of Trans Texas Corridors, we hoped, would have been the end of their CDAs ‘comprehensive development agreements.’ But sadly this mangled, accursed term lives on at TxDOT – editor)

Funding for the DFW Connector “CDA” is $250m of ARRA ‘stimulus’ funds from the Feds, $107m in bond borrowings, and the rest unspecified “public funds.”

24 lanes wide

It is a magnificent and vast piece of engineering. The heart of DFW Connector is a 4km (2.5mi) stretch of cosigned highways TX114 and TX121 presently 8 main lanes and 4 frontage road lanes (2/4/4/2). The new construction will go to to 13/14 main lanes, 4 toll lanes and 6/7 frontage road lanes (3/6/7/4). That’s an average width of 24 travel lanes, plus 8 breakdown shoulders in each of the four roadways, plus a pair of ‘green’ lanes (bicycles) on the left side of the frontage roads.

The western ends of the project split into TX121 and TX360 south and TX114 north.

At the eastern end the big cosigned 24 lanes connects to the northern entrance to the airport and TX114, I-635 LBJ Freeway and TX121 Sam Rayburn Tollway break off. The sprawling DFW airport complex has forced all these traffic routes together for a distance along its northern periphery in an area named Grapevine.

Present traffic on TX114/TX121 is around 189k veh/day and the $1.02b of improvements are designed to cater for 2030 projected traffic of 359k veh/day.

North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) will operate the toll lanes, collecting tolls all-electronically. Revenues will go towards defraying operations and maintenance costs.

TxDOT say traffic volumes and speeds will dictate the tolls within each peak period and the rates will be set to allow speeds of 50mph (80km/hr) or more. Modeling suggests average toll rates of 16c/mile (10c/km) in 2014 when the facility opens rising to 24c/mile (15c/km) in 2029.

Carpoolers may get a discount. Transit buses will go free and trucks will be admitted but at higher tolls relative to axle count.

A later stage will extend work for another 9km (5.6 miles) and bring project cost exclusive of right of way to $1.5b.

TOLLROADSnews 2009-10-09