DALLAS (September 12, 2016) – The new LBJ Express corridor, which sits along I-635 east of Luna Road to west of Greenville Avenue, celebrates its one-year anniversary since fully opening in September 2015. The 13.3 mile project is a $2.6 billion investment that has forever transformed the current and future mobility of North Texas drivers and features tolled managed lanes called TEXpress Lanes.
Almost 20 years ago, The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) recognized the need to transform the nearly 50-year-old freeway that was originally built in the ‘60s. At that time, the highway accommodated 180,000 vehicles per day. By 2009, traffic had increased to 270,000 vehicles per day. With approval from the Texas Legislature, TxDOT and NCTCOG created the first, highway Public Private Partnerships (P3) in the state. Thus, Cintra’s LBJ Infrastructure Group (LBJIG) concession was born to oversee the redesign and reconstruction of the LBJ Freeway.
The construction is uniquely complex as it includes the complete rebuild of 18 individual lanes with the tolled managed lanes below its surface throughout most of the corridor. The finished project includes new and continuous frontage roads with bypass lane sections, reconstructed general highway lanes and three additional TEXpress Lanes in each direction. The 21st century version of the LBJ freeway is safer and features an innovative design with advanced pavement and infrastructure technology.
The construction company, Ferrovial Agroman’s Trinity Infrastructure, utilized more than 250 subcontractors and over 9,000 people who worked 24/7 to keep the project on schedule. The project was an engineering feat -- over 6 million cubic yards of excavation were removed, 5.8 million square feet of bridge decks were built and approximately 2 million square feet of retaining walls were constructed all while maintaining mobility for 270,000 motorists through one of the busiest corridors in the nation.
The concept of a managed lane corridor is to minimize traffic congestion by allowing drivers to choose how they will get from their points of origin to their destinations. With a minimum speed of 50 mph, the TEXpress Lanes provide a faster congestion-free trip with more predictability during drivers’ commutes.
In the past year, the new LBJ corridor has produced the anticipated results. As motorists who are trying to avoid the local daily traffic make the choice to use the TEXpress Lanes, capacity along the general highway lanes is becoming less congested. With a 10 to 15 percent increase in the number of vehicles using the LBJ Express every day, overall congestion relief is averaging nearly 70 percent with speeds up by 15 percent across the entire highway.
Using the Design-Build model, the LBJ Express was able to open three months ahead of schedule and 10 years faster than a traditionally built project. As the first TxDOT Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) project signed in Dallas County with P3 financing, the LBJ Express was built several years earlier than it would have been had it relied solely on statewide funding.
The $2.6 billion project received financial support from:
- TxDOT: $490 million subsidy
- A consortium of Cintra, Meridiam Infrastructure, APG and the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System: $664 million in equity investment
- Transportation Infrastructure (TIFIA) loan: $850 million
- Private activity bonds (PABs): $615 million
In the CDA, the tolls collected by the private sector are used for repaying the TIFIA, PABs and equity investment, as well as the cost of Operations & Maintenance (O&M) for the life of the concession, or the next 40 years. That amounts to $500 to $600 million.
The ongoing O&M of the LBJ Express is provided by LBJIG, which works side by side with local, first responders to keep impacts of the corridor accidents and incidents to a minimum and keep the condition of the highway system at its highest level. The LBJ O&M team provides 24/7 roadside assistance to motorists traveling along the corridor and helps TxDOT with adjacent highways during extreme weather conditions.
With the success of the CDA projects in North Texas, including the LBJ Express, North Tarrant Express, DFW Connector, I-35E and I-35W, TxDOT and other state transportation agencies in the US are exploring the possibility of utilizing the P3 managed-lane model to help relieve congested urban corridors all across the country. In addition, transportation planners in North Texas and around the state are pursuing the possibilities in larger cities.
ABOUT THE LBJ EXPRESS
The $2.6 billion LBJ Express project, which began in 2011 and was completed in September 2015, included the reconstruction of expanded frontage lanes and main lanes, as well as the addition of bypass lanes and TEXpress managed lanes along IH 635 between Luna Rd. and Greenville Ave. and IH 35E between Loop 12 and Valley View Ln. in Dallas. This expansive reconstruction project is successfully alleviating traffic congestion along one of the busiest highway corridors in the state, with as many as 250,000 cars traveling the stretch daily.