By now, everyone should have heard the news about the Trans-Texas Corridor announced by TxDOT executive director Amadeo Saenz during the Texas Transportation Forum in early January. "As a name and concept, the Trans-Texas Corridor is dead," Saenz announced.
What does this mean for highway construction and for TxDOT as the Department moves forward past the Sunset Board Review? Not a whole lot.
"We rewrote the original concept of the Trans-Texas Corridor so what's happening now is that we're developing projects as pieces of projects instead of as the whole thing," Saenz explained.
The original vision for the TTC, outlined in "Crossroads of the Americas: Trans-Texas Corridor Plan," called for a corridor of up to 1,200 feet in width that would allow for several modes of transportation in addition to utility transmission facilities."The Trans-Texas Corridor is really a piece of legislation to allow us to build highways, truck lanes, railroads, and utility corridors," said Saenz. "It's a tool. What has happened is that the Trans-Texas Corridor name has gotten its own connotation. When people hear the name, they immediately think of that original 1,200-foot wide concept."
Texas Transportation Commissioner Deirdre Delisi said that the Commission made the decision to take a different approach to delivering transportation infrastructure after having heard from legislative leaders and community leaders from all across the state, and the advisory committees for the I-35 and I-69 corridors.
"We have tremendous need in the state and that's not going to change," said Delisi, "we're just going to approach it in a different way."
Cintra-Zachry still has the contract/CDA (Comprehensive Development Agreement) to develop this infrastructure program, even though the name has changed.
Delisi continued. "When they [Cintra-Zachry] develop projects that make sense financially, not only for them but for us [state of Texas] as well, we will consider it for proposal."
Last year, the Commission passed a set of guiding principles as TxDOT moves forward to develop these projects. They include the utilization of existing corridors, tolling only the new lanes, being more cognizant of property rights, and more open in communicating with the public.
Saenz explained, "We rewrote the original concept of the Trans-Texas Corridor so what's happening now is that we're developing projects as pieces of projects instead of as the whole thing."
Instead of calling it the Trans-Texas Corridor, the individual projects will have highway numbers originally associated with each segment or local designations such as a numbered loop. Any new rail and energy lines will be approached as individual projects as well.
The recommendations for TxDOT made by the Sunset Review Board in 2008 encouraged the use of CDAs (Comprehensive Development Agreements) as a funding method to speed the delivery of transportation infrastructure. Read more about two new CDAs in North Texas listed below.
NTE Mobility Partners has been awarded a CDA to plan, finance, design, construct, operate, and maintain 13 miles of Northeast Loop Interstate 820 and SH 121/183 in Tarrant County.
TxDOT has chosen LBJ Development Partners to develop the managed lanes expansion on LBJ Freeway/I-635 between US 75 (the High Five) and I-35E (Stemmons Frwy.) in Dallas. There will be a lot of utility relocation and excavation associated with constructing six depressed lanes on this project.
One result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a.k.a. the Obama Administration's Economic Stimulus Plan, is that TxDOT has scheduled second letting dates for April and May during the third week of those months.