Lots of smaller toll projects in Texas
By Peter Samuel
2012-10-25: The Cesar Chavez Toll System Integration and Maintenance contract has gone to Telvent, the system integration part being $2.86m and the maintenance being $947k. The contract by the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) is for toll equipment on new toll managed lanes being built on 9 miles of the Cesar Chavez Border Highway, Loop 375 in El Paso Texas.
A quite modest project, but one of many in the Rio Grande cities of Texas that, in total represent considerable work. Tolling uses the TxTAG brand 6B+ sticker tags and readers from TransCore and is all-electronic and cashless.
On the Cesar Chavez managed lanes CRRMA is widening Loop 375 from 2x2 lanes to 2x3 lanes in an approximate $75m highway improvement project. It is to relieve congestion and enhance capacity for movement southeast-northwest across the El Paso area and mostly quite close to the river and the international border.
Gregory Blake PE of Atkins working with CRRMA as general engineering consultant on the project says Telvent presented "the best value proposal" to the CRRMA: "Their proposal had the highest technical score, lowest system integration price and lowest maintenance price out of the three proposers."
Telvent scored 73/100 CRRMA says and other bidders TRMI got 52% and Kapsch 44%. Scores were done on the basis of the technical proposal and price bid.
CRRMA was formed by the El Paso City Council in March 2007 to use a mix of tolls and local tax funds to improve roads. A project nearing completion is a $141m upgrade of the former clover leaf 'Americas Interchange' of I-10 and Loop 375 with three long high direct connector ramps. Steel girder spans of up to 230ft are involved and girders as much as 8.5ft depth.
$726m of projects
Projects to extend and expand the Loop 375 costing a total of $726m are part of an adopted CRRMA plan. The present work a basically straight road along the border and providing an alternative to I-10 which it mostly parallels. But it is planned as a real loop the with another north-south segment along the eastern edge of the El Paso metro area and including a proposed tollroad section known as the Northeast parkway that would cross into the state of New Mexico.
El Paso is located in the remote western wedge of Texas squeezed between Mexico and New Mexico. It is right across the upper Rio Grande River from the large Mexican city of Cuidad Juarez. The border or bi-national metropolis of over 2 million has about 800,000 people in El Paso and about 1.3 million on the Mexican side in Juarez.
Population growth as been about 15%/decade, but by one forecast the combined population of the binational metro area could be over 3 million by the mid-2020s.
About midway between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific it is on the crossroads of I-10 the most southerly interstate Houston-San Antonio-Phoenix-Los Angeles and I-25 Denver-Santa Fe-Albuquerque-Chihuaha-central Mexico. El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro or Royal Road of the Interior was a major Spanish trading road from about 1600 on, and followed the same route through El Paso.
There are also important toll projects in Cameron County TX right down southeast in the Brownsville/Harlingen metro area where the Rio Grande flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
Cameron County RMA (CCRMA) has a state highway 550 (TX550) tollroad under construction. About 2 miles was opened March 2011 for tolling and 4 miles of a Port Spur is nearing completion with more in plan and to go to construction.
On hold is a West Parkway 2x2 lane tollroad in an old UP railroad right of way 8 miles from US77/83 to the B&M International Bridge.
A planned second causeway to San Padre Island in the Gulf is a $470m 8 mile project.
An Outer Parkway of 21 miles of 2x2 lanes tollroad costing $180m is in study and planning.
And a US281 Connector of about 7 miles of 2x2 lane tollroad from US77/83 and costing some $140m is also in planning.
Then there are Mexico border crossing bridge expansion projects. Total construction of 4347m of toll facilities is in a 2012-2016 plan.
Longer term some $1.6b in toll projects are identified by CCRMA.
Cameron County is mostly the metro area of Brownsville/Harlingen. Population now is about 400k, up from 335k in 2000.
Telvent also is doing toll systems in Cameron County.
Hidalgo County immediately upriver or west of Cameron County and covering the McAllen/Pharr metro area has a new RMA that is starting on a 8.3 mile tollroad - US83 La Joya Relief Route Phase 1 (US83LJRR.) They have an RFQ up for that new pike which would also parallel the Rio Grande.
Under construction is a new 16 mile tollroad connecting the Pharr and Alliance bridges with the US83 expressway. It should open as a 2 lane pike next year but planned for doubling to 2x2 lanes.
And a big bunch of projects in various stages of plan, study and permitting. C&M are doing toll studies there.
Population of Hidalgo County grew from 200k in 1970 to about 750k now. Growth was nearly 30% 2000 to 2010 much higher than the Texas growth rate of 18%, and the US rate of 8%.
There are four international toll bridges here.
Telvent in the US was formed out of Caseta a private company in Texas. Caseta was acquired by Telvent a major Spain-based toll systems company. Telvent in turn was bought by France-based Schneider Electric.
One of its earliest Texas clients was Central Texas RMA in the Austin area and the TX183A tollroad.