AASHTO Journal, 18 September 2015
Federal and state officials marked the opening Sept. 10 of a nearly five-year, $2.6 billion project of tolled and general access lanes in Dallas that combines federal aid, private investment and funding from the Texas Department of Transportation.
Joining to open the LBJ Express project about three months ahead of schedule was Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau. “Managing growth means managing mobility,” said Nadeau. “LBJ Express is leading the way with new and improved lanes and roads that will give travelers options in getting to and from Dallas safely.”
The project used a design-build method to combine design and construction phases under a single partner to speed project delivery, an approach the FHWA supports under its “Every Day Counts” initiative to speed up work that can enhance roadway safety and reduce congestion.
The LBJ Express, the FHWA said, “is expected to improve mobility by nearly doubling existing roadway capacity.”
The Federal Highway Administration said the project used nearly $1.2 billion in federal assistance, which included an $850 million low-interest TIFIA loan.
A TxDOT project tracker says the state agency put in $490 million, while private partner LBJ Infrastructure Group made an equity investment of $664 million. The project also tapped $615 million in private activity bonds. TxDOT owns the facility while LBJIG received a 52-year concession to build, finance, operate and maintain it.
It is also the largest public-private partnership the state has undertaken.
The LBJ Express runs 16 miles in a corridor with frontage roads, general purpose lanes and tolled managed lanes on Interstate 635 from Greenville Avenue to Luna Road, and 13 miles of tolled managed lanes from Northwest Highway to Valwood Parkway on I-35.
The managed lanes will use variable tolling that changes based on time of day to reduce congestion and keep traffic moving at a goal of 50 mph.
Construction began in 2011 on the project, and toll operations began in the eastern segment.
The video below shows the project as it was being built and how it looks now, while a familiar tune plays throughout.