The Texas Transportation Commission Thursday conditionally awarded the LBJ Development Partners, a private-public partnership, a contract to finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the $4-billion, 13-mile LBJ-635 corridor in Dallas. The PPP’s main partner is Spanish toll road developer Cintra, which will lead the design and construction team. The 55-year contract is expected to be finalized in two months.

The project could begin as early as mid-2010 with completion expected in four to five years. The design will enable the new highway to be constructed while minimizing the need for additional right of way, according to the Texas Dept. of Transportation. Mark Pettit, spokesperson for TxDOT’s Dallas district, says the design places new managed toll lanes—between U.S. 75 and IH-35E—below the existing non-tolled main lanes. This will be accomplished by first digging a 25-ft-deep trench between and partially under the existing freeway. It adds costs to the project, he says, but public approval and local businesses required the design not go higher or wider. “With those restrictions, TxDOT chose to go below-grade,” Pettiit says.

Those depressed lanes, three in each direction, will operate as managed lanes. Eight main lanes will be widened and cantilevered above the managed lanes. The project includes two-lane frontage roads in each direction, adding a third lane in several sections, for a total of 18-20 lanes at build-out.

Comparing the project's estimated value to the expected stimulus package transportation funding amount in Texas—approximately $2.5 billion—shows “the full impact of what the project means to the local economy,” says Dallas City Council member and Linda Koop.

Deirdre Delisi, chair of the Texas Transportation Commission, called the project “a victory for North Texas residents, businesses and visitors."