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Take a look at some of the press releases we've written about the overall North Tarrant Express project and the new TEXpress Lanes.
TARRANT COUNTY (October 6, 2016) – The North Tarrant Express (NTE) corridor, which sits along I-820 (North Loop) and SH-121/183 (Airport Freeway) between I-35W on the west and FM 157 (Industrial Boulevard) to the east in Northeast Tarrant County, is celebrating its two-year anniversary this week since becoming fully operational in October 2014. The 13.3 mile project is a $2.1 billion P3 (Public Private Partnership) investment that is providing better mobility through one of the most congested corridors in North Texas utilizing newer, safer design and construction, and managed toll lanes (TEXpress Lanes) for commuter traffic.
Nearly two decades ago, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recognized the need to transform the old and outdated infrastructure that was originally built in the ‘60s. By 2009, traffic in the corridor was inching close to 190,000 vehicles per day. As part of a package of Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDAs) approved by the Texas Legislature, NTE Mobility Partners (NTEMP) was formed and the North Tarrant Express project was underway to redesign and reconstruct the corridor.
The initial challenge was coordinating the simultaneous right-of-way acquisition of nearly 300 properties, 13 miles of utility conflicts, construction, and maintaining traffic flow through six cities along the corridor. However, the finished project includes new and continuous frontage roads with bypass lane sections, reconstructed general highway lanes and two additional TEXpress Lanes in each direction. The 21st century version of the North Tarrant Express is safer and features an innovative design with advanced pavement and infrastructure technology.
The construction company, Ferrovial Agroman’s Bluebonnet Contractors, utilized more than 200 local and regional subcontractors which clocked more than 8.5 million man hours to open the North Tarrant Express on-budget and 9 months ahead of schedule. Teams worked 24/7 and performed hundreds of traffic shifts and thousands of lane closures. Building the 13.3-mile project required the adjustment or relocation of approximately 960,845 linear feet of utilities, construction of 70+ bridges, removal of 5 million cubic yards of excavation, construction of 2.5 million square feet of retaining walls and 2.1 million square feet of decking, all while maintaining traffic for 200,000 cars per day.
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.
Over the past two years, the new NTE 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 35 percent increase in the number of vehicles using the NTE every day, overall congestion relief is averaging more than 70 percent with speeds up by 15 percent across the entire highway.
Using the Design-Build model, the NTE was able to open nine months ahead of schedule and 10 years faster than a traditionally built project. As one of the first TxDOT CDA projects in Texas with P3 financing, the NTE was built several years earlier than it would have been had it relied solely on statewide funding.
The $2.1 billion project received financial support from:
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 approximately $500 to $600 million in 2016 dollars.
The ongoing O&M of the NTE is provided by NTEMP, which works side by side with local emergency 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 NTE 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 North Tarrant Express, LBJ 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 NORTH TARRANT EXPRESS
The $2.1 billion North Tarrant Express project, which began in 2010 and was completed in October 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 820 and SH 121/183 between 35W in Fort Worth and Industrial Boulevard (FM 156) in Euless. This expansive reconstruction project is successfully alleviating traffic congestion along one of the busiest highway corridors in the North Texas and the state, with as many as 200,000 cars traveling the stretch daily.