The Texas Department of Transportation awarded a $4 billion contract Thursday to reconstruct congested LBJ Freeway in North Dallas.
The plan calls for a new six-lane toll road to be built underneath the existing highway's free main lanes. The eight main lanes will be rebuilt a foot wider than they currently are with additional shoulders. The project also includes two-lane frontage roads in each direction that will have a third lane in some sections.
A team of developers led by Cintra, a Spanish company that is also building the North Tarrant Express, will construct the 13-mile project.
Cintra will build and operate the new toll road. The North Texas Tollway Authority be paid to handle the toll collections, although the developers will keep the bulk of the toll revenue during the 52-year contract. Depending on the toll revenue, a portion of it may be taken by the region to use for future transportation projects.
The tolls will be priced according to the amount of traffic on the paid lanes.
Cintra will use about $460 million in state tax money to help pay for the project, according to the Dallas Morning News. The state estimates the Spanish company will spend another $2 billion over the next 45 years, the newspaper reported.
Dallas city leaders said they are thrilled with the contract.
"It's a good day for North Texas, that's for sure," said Dallas Councilwoman Linda Koop.
The project was delayed for many years because of neighbor opposition to initial plans to double-deck the freeway.
Drivers said they have mixed feelings about the project.
"I’m not for paying tolls," Becky Sheffield said. "I’m already doing it on 190 and the Tollway."
"The construction and more tolls is not something I’m looking forward to," Alex Nagy said.
Construction should start later this year and last for five years.