North Tarrant Express, United States of America
The North Tarrant Express (NTE) project is a 21.4km long highway improvement project aimed to improve mobility along the Interstate 820 and the Texas State Highway 121/183 (Airport Freeway) corridor. The project lies in the Dallas-Fort Worth region between Interstate 35 West and Industrial Boulevard in Northeast Tarrant County.
The project is estimated to cost $2.5bn. Construction commenced in November 2010 and is expected to be completed by 2015.
North Tarrant County is one of the fastest growing regions in Texas. It has been found out that the Dallas-Fort Worth commuters spend, on an average, 48 hours a year stuck in traffic. These delays are due to some of the bottlenecks on the Interstate 820 and the State Highway 121/183 corridor.
In order to keep up with the region's more than six million residents and anticipated traffic growth, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is rebuilding the 21.7km stretch of the highway.
The NTE project details
The NTE project comprises a series of highway improvements along the Interstate 820 and the State Highway 121/183 (Airport Freeway) corridor in Northeast Tarrant County. The existing highway has four general purpose lanes, two in each direction.
In the new scheme, the highway will be rebuilt with three general purpose lanes and two toll-managed lanes in each direction. Frontage roads will also be constructed to accommodate future traffic volumes.
Two additional toll-free general purpose lanes are planned to be added by 2030.
Other components of the project include the reconstruction of interchanges and maintenance and up-grade of the existing toll-free facilities.
The project is being undertaken in two segments. Segment one stretches 10.30km on Interstate 820 from Interstate 35 West to Northeast interchange. The 11.10km segment two will run from Northeast interchange to Industrial Blvd.
The project will provide relief from congestion by raising road capacity along the corridor. Additional benefits will include improved safety, reliability, better air quality and reduced carbon footprint.
Contractors involved in the important Texas-based highway improvement
The request for Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) proposals for the project was authorised by the Texas Transportation Commission in March 2006.
In June 2009, TxDOT awarded the CDA contract to NTE Mobility Partners (NTEMP). NTEMP is a consortium of Cintra US, Meridiam Infrastructure and Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (DPFPS) and WW Webber.
NTEMP consortium is responsible for designing, building and financing the project. It will also operate and maintain the roadway for a period of 52 years.
Subcontractors include Ferrovial Agromán, WW Webber, Earth Tech, Maunsell Australia Proprietary Limited Aguirre & Fields, Ross Communications, Bluebonnet Contractors, Aecom and CSJ Engineering Associates.
North Tarrant Express financing
Finances for the project were obtained in December 2009 and approval to begin detailed work was also received in the same month.
The project is being financed from various sources. About $400m will be financed through private activity bonds. Contributions from TxDOT / public funds include $573m. NTEMP will provide $427m in the form of private equity. A loan of $650m has been secured from the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).
TIFIA's loan will be repaid from revenues generated by the project.
Tolling system on the congestion-relieving NTE
The efficiency of the highway corridor will be improved by allowing motorists to bypass congestion in free general purpose lanes by taking the toll-managed lanes.
The managed lanes will have a modern all-electronic toll collection system, with no barriers. This will ensure a seamless, free flow operation of the tolled lanes. Based on demand, the toll charges will be set dynamically and will vary throughout the day.
Initial travel cost for the managed lanes is estimated to be about 15 cents a mile during low traffic and 53 cents a mile during peak hours.
North Texas Tollway Authority will provide the toll collection services. The lanes will be installed with electronic toll collection office systems to be supplied by Indra Sistemas, a Spanish information technology and defence systems provider. Interoperable electronic cards such as TxTAG, TollTag and EasyPass will be used for toll collection.