Texas has long been a state with a relatively warm view of tolling as a way of funding new road infrastructure. In the most recent development, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law Senate Bill 1420 (also called the Sunset Bill) in June 2011, allowing the Texas Department of Transportation and regional mobility authorities to develop 11 highway projects through PPPs.
A key next step is how the next PPP deals shape up according to Open PR. These are reported to be the SH 99 Grand Parkway in Houston and IH-35E Managed Lanes project in Denton. RFIs for both projects have now closed (and were due on 6 and 20 July respectively). Both were reportedly chosen for their likelihood of success. Next project will be the SH 183 managed lanes project in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The success of getting those first ones underway will be the prelude to the others. Given reported difficulties over previous attempts, the need for certainty and confidence will be vital for the development of new PPPs in Texas.
Open PR continues...
TxDOT plans to issue RFQs before the end of August, with responses due before the end of October. The department will then draw up a shortlist of potential bidders and issue RFPs in early December, with responses due in mid-February 2012. TxDOT plans to announce a preferred bidder for the Grand Parkway in June 2012 and a preferred bidder for the IH-35E project in July 2012.
“We think we can get through the process in about 12-14 months and do it in an orderly fashion,” said TxDOT chief financial officer James Bass.
The environmental impact studies for the 11 projects included in the Sunset Bill must be completed by Aug. 1, 2013, and the contracts must be enacted by Aug. 31, 2015.