Three new investor toll startups - TX130/5&6 Oct 24, Jordan Bridge VA Oct 29, VA495XL late-Nov
By Peter Samuel
2012-10-21: Segments 5 & 6 of Texas State Route 130 (TX130/5&6) are due to open to traffic Wednesday October 24, and the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge (SNJB) in Hampton Roads VA October 29. They are both investor-sponsored or private sector toll facilities, and both will be cashless or all-electronic tolling.
TX130/5&6 is 41 miles, 66km of new 2x2 lane tollroad costing about $1,350m, about twelve times the cost of the one mile long Jordan Bridge of 2 lanes. But each is of considerable importance to the communities it serves. And each is a test of investor judgment and patience, and of building infrastructure without taxpayers being 'on the hook.'
Not far off opening also is a third investor sponsored project: the 495 Express Lanes, 14 miles of a full-fledged tollroad in the center of the Capital Beltway in the Washington DC suburbs of northern Virginia.
The Capital Beltway pike is the hottest HOT lanes project yet rolled out with dedicated entry and exit ramps promising not only a speedier trip and greater reliability but more direct and convenient connections than the Beltway's interchanges. And all this in a 200k vehicles/day and notoriously congested corridor between the Dulles Toll Road at Tysons Corner and I-95/395 at the Springfield interchange.
At the big Tysons Corner office and commercial center in particular the 495 Express Lanes' direct on and off ramps should be a major attraction the Beltway's free lanes can't match - a feature no other HOT project has so far had.
Opening for the Transurban sponsored 495 Express Lanes (VA495XL) is not announced but likely to be late next month or early December. Cost including the new 2x2 HOT lanes and rebuild of much of the 2x4 general purpose lanes (for which VDOT has put in $s) is close to $2 billion.
Most of the news about TX130/5&6 has been the state's decision to allow the operator to post speeds of 85mph. Along with TxDOT's 80mph segments 1 through 4 (TX130/1:4) tollroad and a 75mph section of untolled I-10 this will provide a toll alternative to untolled I-35 between San Antonio and Dallas.
I-35 goes right through the middle of the 1.8m population Austin metro area and is heavily trafficked with commuters and other local trips as well as expensive to widen further.
In the north TX130 splits from I-35 near Georgetown north of Austin and as a TxDOT tollroad opening in stages between Nov 2006 and Apr 2008. 48 miles, 77km long it skirts the eastern edge of the Austin area ending at east-west SH45 in Mustang Ridge.
The SH130 Concession Company a Cintra/Zachry joint venture has built an extension south demo Mustang Ridge to I-10 near Seguin on the northeast outskirts of the San Antonio area. The northern Segment 5 of 12 miles is fringe suburban and will attract some commuters from the Lockhart area into Austin especially if the Austin metro area continues expanding strongly. Volumes could be slight because for the moment local people they will continue to have free flowing Tx130 2x2 lane 65mph surface arterial standard travel on frontage roads alongside the pike proper.
There are continuous 2x2 lane frontage roads paralleling the tollroad for 17 miles from Mustang Ridge south of Lockhart, providing for local trips and suburbs alongside.
Mostly for long-distance traffic wanting Austin bypass
TX130TOLL's remaining Segment 6 of 28 miles Lockhart to Seguin is almost entirely rural where no road existed before.
Major role for the TX130/5&6 will be attracting the long-distance drivers Dallas-San Antonio-Laredo-Mexico by offering a bypass of the congestion of I-35 in Austin. The TXDOT and concession company's 130 tollroad will make a total pike of around 90 miles, 145km length Georgetown to Seguin.
Nov 11 start to tolls
The 130 Concession Company plans an introductory 18 days of free travel and will begin tolls on Sunday Nov 11.
The base toll rate for cars is 15 cents per mile, $6.20 to travel the full 41-mile length of the new pike. For an 18-wheeler the base toll is 60 cents per mile or $24.60 for the full length trip. Base tolls require use of a TxTag or other Texas interoperable 6B+ sticker tag such as TollTag from NTTA or Houston's EZ TAG. Vehicles without a Texas sticker tag are video-tolled and charged one-third more than the base toll rates.
Cuddly-&-more 'My' marketing
It's a "mySH130.com" URL and the homepage instructs you not just to hug the road but to "Embrace it."
And the rhetorical question is posed "Can you love a road?"
And there is the heart shaped logo SH 130 Tx TOLL - see nearby.
You have to be a little concerned where all this is leading.
Tollroads competing as sex objects? Speedy fulfillment of desire?
Given that they allow you to enjoy their charms for a fee we can see the transit/anti-car crowd picking up on this and dissing tollroads as whores.
Jordan Bridge in city of Chesapeake VA
Set for opening October 29 the Jordan Bridge is an investor owned toll bridge of 2 lanes over the estuarial Elizabeth River and inter coastal waterway just south of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and 3.8 miles south of downtown Norfolk VA. It replaces a 1926 City of Chesapeake lift or bascule bridge that was closed for safety reasons. It connects signalized local arterial streets of South Portsmouth and South Norfolk.
For local trips over the river the new Jordan bridge will provide a shorter alternative to I-264 and the Downtown Tunnel 2.5 miles to the north, another toll facility. Other east-west routes across the Elizabeth River nearby are the Gilmerton Bridge US460 1.6 miles to the south, and I-64 2.7 miles south. Both are untolled bridges.
On its eastern side the bridge is close to an interchange of north-south I-464.
The new fixed bridge will be a boon to businesses and people in the immediate vicinity on either side of the river. The old lift-bridge was was too often in the 'up' position for shipping making for random 5 minute and more delays.
Tolling will be cashless or all-electronic with three categories of toll rate: cars $2 with E-ZPass, $3 Pay-by-Plate (their term for people who register their plate number, and name and and address for billing), $4 for unregistered cars (which the roller has to pursue via motor registry lookup and bill by mail.)
There are higher tolls for vehicles of 3 axles and more and a higher toll for these vehicles in commuting hours.
The bridge is being built by a private company in which American Infrastructure MLP Funds' subsidiary United Bridge Partners is reportedly the majority shareholder along with Lane Construction and Figg Engineering.
Figg Engineering specializes in this kind of segmental concrete box girder construction that is here using some 800 precast segments (about 300 for columns or piers and 500 for the superstructure. These segments 50 to 90 tons weight each are cast on the ground, then lifted by crane onto a pair of movable steel construction trusses which hold them in position until each span - typically 20 to 25 segments - is completed by being tied together with heavily tensioned steel cables in conduits cast into the segments.
This method of construction was used on the Jordan Bridge to provide 35 spans over a total bridge length of 5375ft, 1.7km.
The main span of 270ft provides navigational clearance of 145ft underneath for shipping that uses the Intracoastal Waterway. Other spans are around 150ft.
Less than a month before the original scheduled July 16 opening (on June 21) there was an extraordinary collapse of one of the last spans to be built, an approach span over some railroad tracks. No one was seriously hurt but bridge segments had to be re-cast and new steel construction truss work fabricated before work could resume.
The collapse which produced a 16-week delay has never been explained beyond the statement that the steel truss work moved unexpectedly. Why it moved - because of a design fault, a fabrication mistake, lack of adequate attachment to posts, or a crane operator subjecting the temporary truss work to forces it was not designed to handle - is the subject of an extensive state investigation.
First a crash, then the "bash"
Like Texas 130TOLL they've got some risqué marketing. They are advertising a "Bridge Bash" which has locals saying things like "First the crash, then the bash."
October 27's "Bridge Bash" will comprise a five kilometer race over the bridge, walking, food and fireworks to kickoff the bridge's grand weekend opening.
Tolls start the Monday morning.
Texas SR130 Segments 5 & 6:
for TX toll tags:
TX130 concession agreement:
South Norfolk Jordan bridge:
toll rates are called 'travel fees' in South Norfolk:
On the Capital Beltway pike: