TXDOT moving ahead for toll concession on SH183/Airport Freeway from Dallas Ft Worth Airport east to I-35E near Dallas CBD
By Peter Samuel
2012-08-14: Texas DOT has a request for qualifications from teams interested in a toll concession for upgrading another 9 miles of SH183 Airport Freeway in Dallas County from SH161 near the airport east nearly to I-35E. To start with there is a modest single toll lanes each direction but that is to grow to 2x3 and 2x2 toll express or managed lanes.
The first phase of the project will buy right-of-way, complete frontage roads, rebuild all westbound and a portion of eastbound general-purpose lanes, and add a managed-toll lane in each direction. Future phases will provide full reconstruction of the eastbound general-purpose lanes, an additional general-purpose lane in each direction and two managed-toll lanes in each direction.
The project is eventually huge in the sheer number of lanes - the width of the highway to be built.
It involves eventually up to 12 lanes each direction - 4 frontage lanes, 5 mainlanes and 3 toll lanes. Here one direction of 3 toll lanes are hoisted above the other direction to conserve real estate. (see cross sections nearby)
This total of 20 to 24 lanes where SH183 and SH114 combine at the eastern end of the project has to be one of the widest highways in the world?
The longer stretch is to be a more modest 4 mainlanes, 2 toll lanes and 3 frontage lanes each direction for a total of 18 lanes.
All this in place of what is presently 2x3 and 2x4 mainlanes with discontinuous frontage roads. Traffic in 2008 varied between 145k and 199k annual average daily traffic (AADT) at different points along the 9 miles of the concession project. Trucks are 5% to 8% of the traffic.
This particular concession omits however the western segment covering the big SH97/SH183 interchange used by traffic going in and out of the main southern Airport entrance upSH97. It also omits a large intermediate interchange with SH114 at about milepost 3.5 from I-35E (heading west.)
The project is part of a major east-west route across the Dallas Ft Worth metro area and it is located between the big DFWI Airport and I-35E the NW-SE trending freeway going right past the downtown district of Dallas and a main north-south route.
The SH183 managed lanes concession is located not far east of the eastern end of the North Tarrant Express concession project now well into construction on the segment between the Airport and Ft Worth. The two will work in together once the SH97/SH183 interchange segment is built.
The Airport to I-35E project was planned and permitting begun in 2004 with a 2 and 3-lane reversible HOV roadway, then reversible managed lanes as pure-HOV fell out of favor.
Less directional peaks
But peak flows have become less directional over time so the reversible concept was dumped for twin directional roadways.
Population growth assumed 2%/yr
The ten-counties constituting the Dallas-FtWorth metro area were 5.08m in 2000 and had grown an average 2.6% annually from 2.37m in 1970. At an assumed average annual population growth of 2.0% they grow to 9.11m in 2030. The fastest growth percentwise is likely in outer counties not so greatly affecting traffic on rather central SH183, but the absolute growth is still substantial. And it serves a high income area with a relatively high value of time saved - a promising condition for toll express lanes.
A Wilbur Smith traffic and revenue study of SH183 Managed Lanes was published in March 2010 and forecasts a wide range of different toll revenue streams for the toll lanes - depending on when associated segments are built. The report also says considerable uncertainty derives from the difficulty in predicting conditions in the main mainlanes and frontage road lanes, and therefore the extent of time savings that will shape the appeal of the toll lanes.
Alternative 1 has all the connecting pieces in place from the beginning and shows revenues of the toll lanes starting at $9m/year opening in 2019 and rising to $16m by 2030. The other alternatives (see bar chart nearby) assume various associated highway improvements coming into service later.
Firms which responded to an earlier RFI were about three-quarters international companies:
- ACS (Spanish, not the Xerox ACS)
- Cintra, Ferrovial and Webber
- Inex Zamir
- Plenary Group
- Shikun & Binui
- Zachary, SNC-Lavalin
A statement issued by TxDOT:
"A Comprehensive Development Agreement can include provisions assigning financing of the design, development, construction, finance, maintenance, and/or operation to a private developer. The decision to implement a P3 agreement was based on a Senate Bill 1420 committee determination made in June."
Russell Zapalac, TxDOT Chief Planning and Project Officer is quoted: "This action represents another major step toward addressing congestion and improving safety in a seriously-congested DFW-area corridor. This P3 agreement will accelerate the construction schedule and deliver a high-quality transportation facility at a great value."
An RFP is planned for issue late this year with the first construction due to begin late 2013.
(Map from WSA T&R study)