US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced that the Texas Transportation Commission will receive a US$285m Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan for an Express Lanes project in the Dallas metropolitan area.
The new TIFIA funding will finance the reconstruction and expansion of a section of the I-35E in the Dallas metro region, which is one of the most congested corridors in the state. The TIFIA loan program is now administered by the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) new Build America Bureau (Bureau), a ‘one-stop shop’ to help streamline credit and grant opportunities for communities like those in the Dallas area, while also providing technical assistance and encouraging innovative approaches to project planning, financing, delivery, and monitoring.
As well as the TIFIA funding, the Bureau also oversees other USDOT programs, including: the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF); the private activity bond (PAB) program; the Outreach and Project Development functions of the BATIC (Build America Transportation Investment Center); and the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program. Since the beginning of the Build America series of initiatives in 2014, USDOT’s Credit Programs have closed nearly US$13bn in financing for 23 projects, with US$30bn in total project costs.
The project, to be completed in phases, will reconstruct and expand a 28-mile (45km) long section of I-35E between I-635 to US 380 that serves the rapidly growing areas of southern and central Denton County, as well as the major Dallas suburbs immediately north of I-635. This major artery for commuters is also a primary link to the Denton-area universities. The US$285m loan will be used for the project’s first phase, a northern segment of the scheme that runs from Turbeville Road to US 380. The improvements include one additional general purpose lane in each direction, and two reversible variable priced Express Lanes. The lanes will be priced according to time of day, and will be shifted in the direction of heavy traffic flow during peak times to relieve congestion.
The managed tolled lanes with dynamic pricing aim to keep traffic moving at a constant 50mph (80km/h). The project also includes numerous frontage road, interchange, and ramp additions and upgrades, especially along the Lake Lewisville section where there are no current north-south commuting alternatives to I-35E. A new bridge will also be constructed over the lake.
“The Bureau helps USDOT to meet the needs of America’s growing infrastructure challenges and to build a 21st century transportation system,” said Foxx. “Thousands of Dallas-area commuters and businesses will benefit from this new project that uses technology solutions to better manage traffic flow into and out of the area.”
Andrew Right, acting director of the Build America Bureau, noted, “By leveraging a loan from the Bureau, more projects like the I-35E can become viable. We have an open door policy for any transportation project to meet with our team to discuss the federal programs and agreements that could move your project forward.”