Four TEXpress Lanes Open on I-35 West in Fort Worth Ahead of Schedule

Four miles of the 10-mile North Tarrant Express project opened to motorists on April 5. The $1.6 billion project, built by a public-private partnership working with TxDOT, includes rebuilding general purpose and frontage road lanes.
April 9, 2018, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"About 10 a.m. Thursday, just before the four-mile stretch of new toll lanes — also known as TEXpress lanes — opened to the public, a caravan of elected officials and other dignitaries took a drive on the new toll lanes, stopping on a flyover ramp near the south end of the 820/35W interchange to take photographs and speak about the project," reports Gordon Dickson for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on April 5. "With the opening of the two new toll lanes in each direction, it is now possible to take toll lanes nearly 10 miles..."

The Interstate 35W project area includes Fort Worth, the fifth largest city in the Lone Star State with 833,000 people, and Tarrant County, the state's third most populous county.

"During peak traffic times, expect to pay a $1.25 for the four-mile stretch, but that pricing model will change," reports Sebastian Robertson for WFAA News on April 5. "After six months, the price will fluctuate by usage." 

"[O]fficials with North Tarrant Express (NTE) Mobility Partners, the team of companies overseeing the $1.4 billion** makeover [known as the North Tarrant Express projectof the I-35W corridor, said they expect to be finished with the entire I-35W project by Sept. 30, and possibly weeks earlier," adds Dickson.

The public-private partnership (P3) includes Cintra, a subsidiary of Madrid-based Ferrovial, and Paris-based Meridiam.

Local push-back against Texas Transportation Commission's elimination of toll-backed road projects

Last December, the Texas Transportation Commission, reacting to pressure from Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to not spend funds from statewide propositions passed by voters in 2014 and 2015 on express lanes, voted 5-0 to eliminate 15 express lane projects from their 10-year capital plan. Both ballot measures diverted existing funding streams (the state's Rainy Day Fund and sales taxes, respectively,) to transportation and prohibited spending the revenue on toll lanes.

"Tarrant County Commissioner Glen Whitley used [Thursday's 'flyover'] opportunity to praise the contractors for getting the toll lanes completed about six months ahead of schedule, and he called for state leaders to sign the documents needed to extend the I-35W improvements north from Heritage Trace Parkway to Eagle Parkway near Alliance Airport. That piece of I-35W development has stalled because Gov. Greg Abbott and other state leaders have clamped down on the Texas Department of Transportation's participation in any future toll projects," adds Dickson.

Footnote: **Gordon Dickerson clarified in an email on April 8 that "$200 million was a piece of the [$1.6 billion] project done by the Texas Department of Transportation's own contractors, rather than by NTE Mobility Partners."

Hat tip to IBTTA Smart Brief.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Fort Worth Star-Telegram
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