$2.6B Texas P3 highway project represents 'future of infrastructure development'
- The $2.6 billion LBJ Express highway reconstruction project in Dallas — Texas' largest public-private partnership — has opened three months before its originally scheduled date.
- The massive project kicked off in 2011 and included the reconstruction of certain lanes of Interstate 635, the addition of new managed toll lanes and bypass lanes, and the construction of new bridge structures, lighting and retaining walls.
- Funding for the project came from $615 million worth of private activity bonds, $664 million from investor funds, an $850 million U.S. Department of Transportation loan, and $490 million from the Texas DOT. Project developer LBR Infrastructure was a collaboration between Meridiam Infrastructure, Cintra, APG and the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System.
Federal Highway Administration Administrator Gregory Nadeau said the "design-build project delivery method" was utilized to complete the highway project three months early. The manager of the design-build process, Trinity Infrastructure, reportedly created 9,000 jobs for more than 250 construction companies throughout the duration of the project.
Public-private partnerships, known in the industry as P3s, involve matching public construction with private dollars. The method is legal in 34 states and Puerto Rico, according to the Federal Highway Administration, which encourages the model.
For state and local governments with tight budgets — and for contractors specializing in infrastructure construction — P3s have become an effective way to avoid delays caused by uncertainty over federal funding for road, bridge and transit projects.
"Public-private partnerships represent the future of infrastructure development," said Jane Garvey, chairman of Meridiam North America. "The lack of a sustained and predictable funding mechanism at the state and national levels will continue to thwart future infrastructure projects."