Skip to comments.State approves bid for I-35 toll alternative (hmmm, I wonder...)
Posted on 12/16/2004 6:51:41 PM PST by BobL
State approves bid for I-35 toll alternative
Spanish group led by Cintra and Zachry would pay for $6 billion of turnpikes, and give state a $1.2 billion concession payment.
By Ben Wear
The Texas Transportation Commission, not prone to staring at the mouths of gift horses, today chose a consortium to build an alternative to Interstate 35 that pledges to construct most of that road on its own dime.
Actually, the partnership led by Spanish tollroad operator Cintra and Zachry Construction corporation would spend $6 billion worth of its dimes to lay down a four-lane toll road from San Antonio to Dallas and give the state $1.2 billion to boot.
Cintra and Zachry would construct more than 300 miles of highway, leaving a gap only for Texas 130. The corridor road would tie into the south and north ends of Texas 130, a tollroad currently under construction by Lone Star Infrastructure. Lone Star's primary partner is Fluor Enterprises Inc., one of the two losing bidders today.
The Cintra-Zachry consortium would then have a concession to charge tolls on the road for the next 50 years. The toll rates would be subject to approval by the transportation commission.
If the Texas Department of Transportation and the Cintra-Zachry group can work out a final contract in the next two months, then officials expect construction could start on the first segment from Austin to San Antonio by 2007. The other four segments would begin in 2009 and 2010, with completion of the entire route by the end of 2014.
Cintra and Zachry, along with about 16 other subcontractors, would also build other segments of the I-35 alternative and might participate in freight rail relocation projects, as well as other elements of the corridor project in decades to come.
Gov. Rick Perry, who proposed the 4,000-mile Trans-Texas Corridor during the 2002 election campaign, made an unusual appearance at today's commission meeting, joining the commissioners on the dais for a long presentation on the I-35 alternative. At the end, Perry, who has taken hits from every direction for what many saw as an unrealistic pipe dream, took a few minutes for a rhetorical victory lap.
"When our hair is gray, we will be able to tell our grandchildren that we were in a Texas Department of Transportation meeting room when one of the most extraordinary plans was laid out for the people of Texas," Perry said. "I hope there are a lot of people in this room that are knocked back on their heels saying, 'I can't believe it.' Well, believe it."
Just how Cintra and Zachry can afford to lay out all of the money, give the state $1.2 billion for the right to operate the roads, and then make money, remained unclear Thursday.
Jose Lopez, United States and Latin America director for Cintra, said the toll rates would be comparable to current Texas toll rates, generally between 10 cents and 20 cents a mile for passenger cars and three to four times that for large trucks. And he said the company's financial plan did not include making money off concessions along the roads such as fast food joints or gas stations.
Cintra and Zachry, simply put, believe that if they build it, the drivers will come. One possible incentive: The 2003 legislation that allowed the state to build the Trans-Texas Corridor, or let someone else build and operate it, allows speed limits on the road of up to 85 miles per hour.
The bottom line:
Tolls will have to be imposed on I-35 (currently a freeway), simply because Governor Perry's White Knight will require it. Otherwise no sane CEO would ever drop that kind of money.
If you want to know why the Republican Governor here is about to get creamed in the Primary, this is a prime example.
7 billion dollar contract could make every politician in Texas
a millionaire several times over.
What a vehicle for corruption this deal is.
Sounds like a horse swindle to me.
The I35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin is in the Final stages of upgrade to 4 Lane, New Braunfels and San Marcos being the few remaining bottlenecks, But this portion is already close to capacity, IMHO. But, living in Texas most my Life I do smell a RAT here. Thats a lot of money, someones gonna pay and it will probably be the taxpayers of Texas if the past is any indication.
I'm suspicious too, but do you really think I-35 is underutilized? I drive the section between Austin and Dallas fairly regularly, and feel I'm taking my life in my hands with every white knuckled trip. It's congested and dangerous, and road rage seems to be on the increase.
Know anything about this?
"I'm suspicious too, but do you really think I-35 is underutilized? I drive the section between Austin and Dallas fairly regularly, and feel I'm taking my life in my hands with every white knuckled trip. It's congested and dangerous, and road rage seems to be on the increase."
Yes, there is heavy traffic on that stretch at times, but even so, is the traffic bad enough to drive people off of I-35 and have them pay 15 to 20 cents per mile - to pay off a $7 Billion investment. I can't see how. Maybe 20 or 30 years from now there could be some spillover traffic, but no company in its right mind would wait that long for its return on investment.
Familiar - thanks.
Zachry Construction Corporation
Earth Tech, Inc.
JP Morgan Securities
Bracewell & Patterson
Pate Engineers, Inc.
Aguirre & Fields LP
Rodriguez Transportation Group
Railroad Industries Incorporated
Public Resources Advisory Group
Southwestern Capital Markets
National Corporate Network
It's going to get worse.
The politicians are taking more and more liberties in the way they act towards the "people".
They can get away with just about anything, these days, and they know it.
They and the "elite" think they are some kind of royalty with God given rights to take anything they want.
Yes. This is part of the Trans-Texas Corridors project. Go to the Texas DOT website and click on the appropriate links.
Mostly underutilized? Have you driven between Dallas and Austin on I-35? Add a few hundred Mexican trucks a week thanks to NAFTA, and you'll have folks more than willing to pay the cost of a tank of gas to ride a tollway at 85 mph.
There certainly will be people willing to pay to get out of the traffic - but will there be enough people to do that, for this company to get anything close to a reasonable return on investment? I just can't see how - unless the state removes the freeway option for the same route ($7.2 Billion is LOT of money).
I certainly wouldn't invest any of my money in such a project. Most of the tollways around urban areas such as Dallas, Houston and Atlanta seem to make more sense economically (although the Hardy toll road would make more sense if it actually went anywhere).
Would you believe 4,000 miles of 1/4 mile- wide rights-of-way containing
That's a roughly 1,000 square mile land grab...
(Thanx for the ping, BobL...)
Be nice if the headline told us which state.
Are you saying that they plan to eventually remove I 35?
The starter of this thread is completely misleading on this issue, as was exposed in this thread:
Forced to adjust his tune several times as one lie after another was exposed by numerous posters.
The bottom line is that this freeway corridor is crowded, with nearly 250,000 more residents added EACH YEAR! Additionally this is the primary corridor for freight coming out of Mexico into the US. Yes the demand is there, ask anyone who has to travel I-35 any weekend, or commute it in San Antonio, Austin, Ft. Worth, and Dallas. The 85 mph speed limit will be a big draw, and by tolling this will be built years before TXDOT could afford to do it. The reason for that is the company can borrow against the long-term future revenue stream, quickly raising capital better than the traditional bonding process. And its a user fee, so you only pay for it if you choose to use it. Far closer to capitalism and conservatism than forcing everyone to pay for roads they may never use by exacting increased taxes without choice.
"Be nice if the headline told us which state."
Sorry, I got hit once for re-writing a headline (breach of FP protocol), so I'm a bit reluctant. But I could have put that info in parantheses somewhere. I'll me sure to sneak in next time.
To put that into perspective, the land area of the entire State of Rhode Island is 1,045 square miles...
Perspective, I guess. I use the Hardy Toll Road nearly every time I go down to Houston, since more often than not I'm hearing traffic reports of an accident on I-45, and it flows far better even during rush hour. BTW, the tollway authority is about to start construction to extend it from I-610 to downtown, which will further increase its utility. Should be done within 5 years.
That's also just a conceptual vision plan for the next 50 YEARS. Most of those roads won't be constructed, nor land purchased, nor even studied for several more decades.
Thanks for exposing this fraud.
This is a perennial FR problem. The "right" way to fix it would be to add a "State" field to the "Post Article" form.
However, that could involve adding a new field into an already-running database with lots of archived records -- not something I could advocate doing...
(John, is it even worth asking?...)
I can take it. I have thick skin. This gentleman obviously is either an insider or has plenty of money to burn. I meet neither of those criteria.
I would like to say that I did effectively rebut every attack on that thread. Let's also get past the capitalism / free market lines. As I said earlier, only when a company, like Flour, can find a need, take a map, draw a straight line from Point A to Point B, clear everything in its path, and then lay concrete, will you have the free market that you dream of. That's what Southwest Airlines did in a true free market. I'm waiting for you to tell me how that's done with surface transportation. The bottom line is that surface transportation will NEVER be free market. So let's move on.
What has the people upset on this thread is that the governor is committing the taxpayers of this state to a $7.2 Billion contract and I challenge anyone to produce a study showing how this project will make any money when side-by-side with a freeway. I'd also like you (or anyone) to post a copy of the following documents:
1) The Request for Proposal
2) The Proposal received and tentatively approved
3) The final contract (hopefully prior to signing)
I can PROMISE you that there will be protections of some kind for this company in those words - or they will not invest $7.2 Billion of their own money - the congestion may be bad, but it's not that bad. That is why the people on this thread can see though your defense of the governor and know they are about to get the shaft.
Mr. GovShill, when you can refute the objections to Perry's wet dream raised here, you might be worthy of coming back here and calling another FReeper a "fraud"...
That's another kind of "wet."
Let's go one step further. Let's say I-35 does remain a functional freeway. I want to know why on earth any NAFTA truck would ever pay 50 cents or more per mile to drive on the toll road - when the driver is lucky to make that much in the first place. I can think of 2 options:
1) I-35 is impassable either due to neglect or traffic
2) I-35 has its own tolls
Either way that drivers either lose.
If the people of Texas have anything to say about it, the whole TTC concept will be s***-canned as soon as we can dump the RINO who now squats in our Governor's office.
Don't embarrass yourself by letting it slip that you aren't from Texas.
That ain't embarassin' -- it's plumb mortifyin'! '-)
Therein lies the trouble. We won't have a say. Perry is determined to turn Texas into a toll hell just like NY or PN. He's one of the slimiest pubbies in office. I wouldn't vote for Perry for dog catcher, because he'd soon be proposing taxes on all dog tags.
We will tell our grandchildren of how our extraordinary plans ruined local economies, ran numerous Texans off their land, and put the state's taxpayers on the hook for massive debts, all for a problem that could have been solved by widening I-35 a little...
I think that the state could apply to the Federal Government to convert a federally funded freeway to a tollway...
"I think that the state could apply to the Federal Government to convert a federally funded freeway to a tollway..."
Presently true. In the next Transportation Bill (likely to pass earlier this year) they won't even have to apply. A rogue governor, for example, can simply decree that his Interstates will be Toll Roads. But that would never happen in Texas (ha).
Shouldn't there be legislative approval for such a conversion? after all, it could come under raising revenue, and the people should be involved in such a thing.