Ferrovial has inaugurated the North Tarrant Express
(NTE) in Texas, an investment of 2.1 billion dollars, nine months ahead of schedule. This is a cutting-edge project
because of its design and advanced technology; it runs along the Dallas-Fort Worth route, one of the most congested corridors in the United States. Ferrovial Chairman Rafael del Pino and CEO Íñigo Meirás presided over the inauguration, accompanied by the mayors of the main cities served by the NTE and representatives of the Texas Department of Transportation.
, a Ferrovial subsidiary, heads the NTE consortium; the 21.4 kilometre road is being operated under a 52-year concession. Construction work, which commenced late in 2010, was executed by Ferrovial Agroman
and Webber. The road was built while keeping the corridor open to traffic as the existing lanes were expanded and upgraded and new dynamic tolled lanes (managed lanes) were built along IH 820 and SH 121/193, which link the IH 35W in Forth Worth with Dallas-Fort Worth airport on the road to Dallas.
The NTE is unique in its category: a road with dynamic tolls
built inside a congested urban highway that has been upgraded and will be operated and maintained at no charge to users throughout the concession period. The addition of the managed lanes (called "TEXpress lanes" in Texas) doubles the road's carrying capacity. Drivers can choose between the free lanes and the new managed lanes, which carry a toll that fluctuates during the day depending on traffic conditions in the corridor, the goal being to ensure that traffic speed on the tolled lane is at least 50 mph (about 80 kph).
Sensors installed along the road constantly transmit real-time information about traffic conditions, weather, congestion, etc., enabling tolls to be adjusted every five minutes. In this way, prices can be varied to adapt to conditions on the corridor in real time, thereby enhancing traffic flows.
All entrances and exits for tolled and untolled lanes and frontage roads are clearly signposted to guide drivers safely along the road. Tolls are announced before entering the tolled lanes so that drivers have time to decide whether to choose a managed lane or continue along the standard lanes. Once the decision is taken, the price is locked in for that user.
The NTE is also serving as a model of public-private partnership (PPP)
for other projects in Texas and other states. The three partners in NTE are Cintra (56.7% stake), Meridiam (33.3%) and Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (10%). The project was financed from four sources: an issue of Private Activity Bonds, a long-term TIFIA loan from the US Department of Transportation, and contributions from the partners and the Texas Department of Transportation.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is the sixth-wealthiest metropolitan area in the US and ranks 10th in the world. Over 10,000 companies have their head offices in the area, including some of the largest corporations in the US, such as American Airlines, Exxon Mobil, AMR Corporation, Electronic Data Systems/EDS, JC Penney and Kimberly-Clark.
Cintra's total investment in the US amounts to close to 10.372 billion euro. Also in the US, the company is developing the LBJ Express and expanding the NTE (both in Texas), and it operates Chicago Skyway, Indiana Toll Road and SH130. It was recently selected to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the expansion of the I-77 in North Carolina. Ferrovial Agromán has also been awarded the contract to design and build US 460 in Virginia.
Video: Driving the TEXpress lanes: a glimpse into the future!