Monday, May 07, 2007

NTTA outbids Cintra by $833 million for 121 (freeway) toll road

Tollway board bids $3.3 billion for 121 project

May 7, 2007

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2007

PLANO - The North Texas Tollway Authority unveiled a $3.3 billion bid today to build and operate the State Highway 121 toll road, revealing a much-anticipated proposal that agency officials say is superior to the state’s tentative $2.8 billion deal with Spain-based Cintra.

Tollway authority board members unanimously approved a bid that includes $2.5 billion in upfront money to help pay for other North Texas road projects and another $833 million spread out over 50 years. The coveted toll road in Collin and Denton counties is considered to be among the most lucrative toll projects in the nation.

Earlier this year, state officials announced a tentative deal with Cintra that includes a $2.1 billion upfront payment and another $700,000 over the life of the 50-year contract. But that deal has not yet cleared financial and environmental reviews and has not received final approval.

Critics object to a number of provisions in the Cintra deal and have raised concerns about turning over a state highway to a foreign company and its private investors. In March, Texas lawmakers asked for the state-chartered tollway authority to be allowed to re-enter the bidding process.

The tollway authority’s bid now must be considered by the Regional Transportation Council, the body that oversees transportation planning in North Texas. The Texas Transportation Commission also must change or waive a previous agreement with the tollway authority spelling out the future of at least six North Texas toll projects.

© 2007 The Dallas Morning News Co

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