LBJ Infrastructure Group, LLC (LBJIG) completed its financing for the Dallas LBJ Express project ahead of schedule. Construction should start in early 2011 and be on a fast track for completion by 2016.

Traffic on IH-635 (LBJ Express) in Dallas is estimated to exceed 450,000 vehicles by 2020. The LBJ Express project will give motorists a choice to by-pass mainlane congestion by using managed lanes when complete by 2016. Photo: TxDOT.
Photo: TXDOT.
Traffic on IH-635 (LBJ Express) in Dallas is estimated to exceed 450,000 vehicles by 2020. The LBJ Express project will give motorists a choice to by-pass mainlane congestion by using managed lanes when complete by 2016.
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LBJ Infrastructure Group spokesman Andy Rittler tells Texas Construction that the biggest benefit of the early funding for North Texans is the project getting started.

“It is a great opportunity to get the project done with a combination of innovative financing years ahead of a design-build scenario under traditional methods,” Rittler added.

With the influx of private capital, LBJ Infrastructure Group will be able to bring the project to reality decades before it could be done otherwise, he says.

The LBJ Infrastructure Group invested about $2.7 billion in the LBJ Express, which will be financed through a combination of public and private funds including $665 million in private equity, $615 million in unwrapped private activity bonds available from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation and $496 million from the Texas Dept. of Transportation, and a U.S. DOT Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (or TIFIA) loan of $850 million, offered by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to encourage private-sector involvement in U.S. highway projects. The financing utilizes unwrapped private activity bonds, or bonds without need of credit enhancement.

LBJ Express is the first privately funded road development project of its kind in the country to attain financial close in 2010, Rittler says. The partners are Cintra U.S., the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, Meridiam Infrastructure and Houston-based W.W. Webber.

“This is a visionary project that will expand capacity, relieve traffic delays and improve roadway safety in the nation’s fourth most congested region,” Rittler says.

The LBJ/635 is designed to improve IH-35E and IH-635/LBJ in Dallas. Thr project will feature a multi-level highway system including several miles of depressed lanes allowing drivers the choice of bypassing congestion in general purpose lanes for new, high-speed managed toll lanes.

The approximately 17-mi LBJ Express project encompasses improvements along IH-635 from Luna Road to Greenville Avenue, as well as on IH-35E between Loop 12 and Valwood Parkway. The construction project is anticipated to double the capacity of the current road and relieve traffic congestion for the major east-west corridor.