Regional authority bids on Dallas toll project

| 5/8/2007

Not so fast, Cintra.

The Spanish-based toll road operator has been, for some time, the leading candidate to win a contract to build, operate and maintain Texas Highway 121, a proposed 26-mile toll road through Dallas, Collin and Denton counties.

But as Land Line previously reported, the Cintra offer was not set in stone to be the winning bid.

A state-authorized regional toll authority has arrived with a sweetened offer of its own to build the road.

The North Texas Tollway Authority submitted a proposal Monday, May 7, topping Cintra’s $2.8 billion bid to the North Texas Regional Transportation Council with a $3.33 billion proposal.

The $500 million difference in proposals could sweeten the pot for the North Texas Regional Transportation Council, which has the final say on which offer to convert into a contract.

The regional council requested in writing that the North Texas Tollway Authority submit a proposal, setting a deadline of May 25.

But there is another deadline the interested parties are paying more attention to – namely Gov. Rick Perry’s deadline for either signing a bill into law to create a two-year moratorium on private toll roads, or his possible veto of that legislation. Perry’s deadline is Friday, May 18.

A tollway authority official says no matter what action or non-action the governor takes, a winning bid from the authority would not be blocked by the moratorium legislation, which only pertains to privately funded toll roads.

“It would not affect it, because the NTTA is a quasi-state agency,” North Texas Tollway Authority spokesman Sam Lopez told Land Line.

Perry’s deadline is more significant for Cintra, which could face a two-year delay in the project if the moratorium legislation goes through.

Cintra is the company that joined with Macquarie Infrastructure Group in 2006 to win control of the Indiana Toll Road. The consortium made a $3.85 billion payment to control the toll road for 75 years.

– By David Tanner, staff writer