The Texas Department of Transportation believes the best way to manage congestion on Interstate 35W in Fort Worth is to add a pair of toll lanes in each direction. The project, known as the North Tarrant Express, is being constructed by a group that includes Cintra, the Spanish toll operator that owns stake in the Indiana Toll Road.
A TxDOT spokesman says the new lanes will be open to anyone, including long-haulers who are willing to pay the toll once the new lanes are constructed. At this point, the agency has yet to set the toll rates.
The North Tarrant Express is being constructed in phases. The latest phase, costing nearly $1.4 billion, will take traffic from the junction of three highways – I-820, SH 121 and SH 183 – to Farm to Market Road 157.
Funding comes from regional governments, a $537 million TIFIA loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation, private activity bonds and private capital from the developing agency. TIFIA, Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, encourages public-private partnerships through low-interest government loans.
A previously approved phase of the North Tarrant Express, a 13-mile stretch that opens in 2015 at a cost of $2 billion, will run from the I-35W interchange with I-820 to the SH 121/SH 183 split. That initial phase will someday include the addition of two non-tolled lanes no later than 2030, according to TxDOT.
The Spanish toll operator Cintra has gotten a lot of work in Texas in recent years. The company is involved in the group that will operate the SH 130 toll road between Austin and San Antonio. That’s the one that will carry a maximum posted speed limit of 85 mph when it opens in a few weeks.