Perry Signs Comprehensive Development Agreement
Cintra-Zachry consortium plans system near 1-35
By TONY HARTZEL
The Dallas Morning News
State leaders sealed a $7.2 billion partnership with an international consortium Friday to build the first portions of Gov. Rick Perry's proposed Trans-Texas Corridor road network.
The agreement signed by Cintra-Zachry officials and the Texas Department of Transportation commits the state to pay the consortium $3.5 million to develop a plan to design, finance and build the corridor. The corridor will roughly parallel Interstate 35 from the Red River to the Rio Grande.
A plan is expected to be complete in about a year. It will outline $6 billion in short-term projects that Cintra-Zachry has pledged to pay for and open between 2010 and 2014, including a toll road from North Texas to San Antonio. It also will lay out the vision for longer-term projects, including highway connections to the Mexico border and new passenger and freight rail lines, which could be built after 2025.
"In Texas, we're not waiting on others to lead or innovate, and we're not going to accept a future marred by gridlock and growing pollution problems," Mr. Perry said.
He called the agreement a "significant step towards a better, more reliable transportation system." He added that roads can be built cheaper and faster under the plan, and that the infusion of $7.2 billion into the Texas economy could result in 140,000 jobs.
Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters attended the press conference and praised the public-private partnership. State officials have hailed the plan as a way to entice private companies to help build increasingly needed public infrastructure in an era of relatively stagnant tax revenue.
In December, the commission chose Madrid-based Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras and San Antonio-based Zachry Construction Corp. to develop the project. Cintra has a long history of building or operating transportation projects, including toll roads in Canada, Spain and Chile.
The corridor plan, as first laid out by Mr. Perry several years ago, calls for development of a network of new toll roads, rail lines and utility lines across the state. All parts could be built inside a single 1,200-foot-wide swath or located miles apart from each other.
Staff writer Christy Hoppe in Austin contributed to this report.
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