Thursday, August 23, 2007

State Highway 121 Project Agreement Completed

By Sam Lopez nnd Lara Rodriguez - NTTA & NCTCOG - Aug. 23, 2007
North Texas – In the true spirit of teamwork, representatives from the Dallas District of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) have finalized a historic project agreement. The NTTA will develop, finance, design, construct, maintain and operate State Highway (SH) 121 from McKinney to Coppell for the next 50 years. Staff representatives of the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) participated in the negotiation of the major terms of the project agreement and quantified the anticipated public benefit.

Today, the Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) approved a Minute Order authorizing TxDOT’s Executive Director to enter into the project agreement with the NTTA, subject to environmental clearance of Segments 1 through 4 of the SH 121 toll project. That clearance is expected in September 2007.

The SH 121 project agreement has now been signed by Jorge C. Figueredo, NTTA Executive Director, and submitted to TXDOT. When TxDOT’s Executive Director signs the agreement, the NTTA will then have 45 days to achieve the “financial close” and to deliver a $2.5 billion upfront payment to TxDOT. An additional $833 million upfront payment, representing the current value of 49 future annual payments, will be made at TxDOT’s direction to the RTC for regional transportation projects. The RTC has already received proposals from cities and counties and will decide how the $3.3 billion will be used for additional mobility projects throughout North Texas.

“We are nearing the final execution of SH 121 project agreement and I thank all of our partners who have worked tirelessly and expeditiously to complete it,” said Paul N. Wageman, Chairman of the NTTA Board of Directors. “The NTTA looks forward to delivering the upfront payment to TxDOT and the RTC in the near future. The real work begins when our team of designers and contractors complete this critical roadway for Collin, Dallas and Denton counties.”

“The motor fuel tax can no longer keep up with the growth we are experiencing in North Texas and falls short of meeting our transportation needs. TxDOT has a plan to make up the financial shortfall and it involves doing exactly what occurred on SH 121. This included seeking innovative solutions, working with partners like the NTTA and empowering local communities and the RTC to help fill the transportation funding gap," said Bill Hale, P.E., District Engineer, Dallas District of the Texas Department of Transportation.

“This region, like the rest of the nation, is facing a tremendous shortfall in transportation funding,” said Michael Morris, director of transportation of the NCTCOG. “This agreement with NTTA will mean freeway, thoroughfare, passenger rail and air quality projects can be built years ahead of schedule. Keeping up with the tremendous growth and transportation needs of the region is a high priority.”

On June 28, the TTC, the Board that oversees TxDOT, instructed the NTTA and TxDOT staff, in cooperation with the RTC, to prepare a project agreement term sheet within 60 days. The three partners worked diligently to meet the demanding schedule.

The SH 121 toll project is a 25.9 mile all-electronic toll road through Collin, Dallas and Denton counties from McKinney where SH 121 intersects with U.S. 75 west to near the Tarrant County line. Segments 1 and 2 run east from 0.23 miles east of Business 121 to the ramp pair on the east side of the Hillcrest Road overpass. Segment 3 runs east from the ramp pair on the east side of the Hillcrest Road overpass to the ramp pair on the west side of the Watters Road overpass. Segment 4 is the ramp pair on the west side of the Watters Road overpass through the north, east, and south limits of the construction required to complete the U.S. 75/SH 121 Interchange. Segment 5 is the Dallas North Tollway interchange.

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