Click the Questions below to reveal the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If you have other questions you would like addressed, please click here.
What is the LBJ Express project and how will it be different from the current LBJ?
When the LBJ Freeway opened in 1969, it was designed to hold about 180,000 vehicles per day. Current traffic counts put that number at 270,000 vehicles per day. Based on today’s traffic count, by 2020 demand will increase to 500,000 vehicles per day traveling this road.
To accommodate the increased traffic, from 2011 to late 2015, the 17-mile LBJ Express project will incorporate dramatic improvements to Interstate 635 and Interstate 35E in Dallas County. This innovative project will feature rebuilt main lanes, a continuous Frontage Road system, and 13 miles of TEXpress Lanes. Drivers will have the choice of driving on the same number of main general purposes lanes or opting for new TEXpress Lanes. Motorists who choose to use TEXpress Lanes can expect a reliable, predictable trip through this frequently congested corridor.
What are the start and completion dates for the LBJ Express?
With the financial close achieved in June 2010, design took place during the balance of 2010 and concluded in the early part of 2011. Construction began in the spring of 2011 and will conclude by late 2015. (By comparison, the current Central Expressway project took 10 years to complete.)
Construction of the LBJ Express is broken into three segments. While construction is taking place concurrently on the entire span of the project, certain segments will be completed before others. The first segment of the LBJ Express, along I-35E, has an anticipated completion date of April of 2015. The third segment of the LBJ Express Project will open in December of 2013.
When complete in late 2015, the fully redesigned and reconstructed roadway will provide drivers with the same number of free general purpose lanes they enjoy today, plus up to six new TEXpress Lanes and continuous frontage roads. Our commitment throughout construction is to minimize disruptions to residents and businesses along the LBJ corridor and keep traffic moving.
What incentives are in place to finish construction early?
While there are no written incentives in the contract to finish construction early, generating revenue is a powerful motivation to finish the project on time in order to mitigate any contractual penalties that exist for late delivery.
According to the Texas Association of Business, “A 2004 report by the United States Federal Highway Administration, as well as 2007 study by the University of Melbourne, cited the success of public-private partnership projects, noting that they are completed on or ahead of schedule nearly 90 percent of the time. The remaining 10 percent were completed within three months of the scheduled delivery date.” Overall, public-private partnerships reduce the construction time by five to 42 months. (Texas Association of Business; “P3 Roadways: Public-Private Partnerships that Work;” page 7)
How many new lanes will be built?
Along the most congested parts of I-635, there will be three new TEXpress Lanes in each direction. Along I-35E, there will be two TEXpress Lanes in each direction.
In addition, the project will include a continuous frontage road in both directions of I-635, simplifying access to businesses along the roadway and offering bypass lanes to allow through drivers to avoid traffic lights at several busy cross streets.
What precautions will be taken to minimize traffic delays?
To guarantee the safety of the public, we have carefully and thoughtfully developed a construction staging and traffic management design to provide to provide for the safe and steady flow of traffic through the project area.
Our traffic control plans also incorporate traffic control devices to route traffic safely and at a controlled speed around construction areas. The project is in close coordination with traffic planners for all the cities in the area to ensure nearby traffic signals are timed to assist motorists in the construction area. This will keep drivers safe and reduce the impact of traffic on residents and businesses located near the project area.
Will this project improve safety along the corridor?
The LBJ Express Project will completely rebuild the frontage roads and general purpose lanes to current federal and state highway standards, with wider lanes and shoulders on each side.
In addition, the project will add TEXpress Lanes, which will be separate from the free general purpose lanes and utilize their own entrance and exit ramps. Signage will provide drivers with advance notice of the pricing for the TEXpress Lanes as they enter into each of the tolling segments.
What are TEXpress Lanes and how are they different than a typical toll road?
A toll road charges a fixed price that remains constant at all times of the day. A toll road does not guarantee predictable travel times or keeping traffic moving.
On TEXpress Lanes, tolls will adjust based upon the average speed or number of drivers who want to use the express lanes. During non-peak driving times, the average tolls will be less than during rush hour. The dynamic pricing ensures those drivers a predictable, higher-speed commute.
In essence, the TEXpress Lanes system will give drivers the option to pay a toll in order to ensure they arrive at their destination on time.
How much will tolls cost?
During the first six months following completion of the construction phase, tolls on LBJ Express will be fixed, no matter what the time of day or driver demand. After that six month evaluation period, new tolling policies will be implemented in which the toll rate will change based on a number of factors, including congestion levels in each lane and/or the time of day. In the event that the average speed on the TEXpress Lanes drops below 50 mph, the toll rate will rise in order to maintain an average 50 mph trip in each segment of the corridor.
When the project opens to traffic, tolls are estimated to range from 15 cents per mile during low traffic volumes to 55 cents per mile during peak or rush hour times. (Courtesy: Texas Department of Transportation)
Toll rates will depend on:
-Traffic conditions as they change during the day (for instance, there will be higher toll rates during periods of higher congestion to maintain the 50 mph traffic speed)
-Type of vehicle (3-axle vehicles pay more than 2-axle vehicles)
-Number of passengers in the vehicle. Under the current policy, two or more passengers are considered HOV and pay half-price during peak travel periods. Traffic lanes will be marked for HOV use. Enforcement officers will monitor HOV usage. HOV users must have a windshield transponder (TxTAG, TollTag or EZPass) to receive the HOV discount.
Is there a cap on the tolls?
The Base Toll Rate Cap is 75 cents a mile for every toll segment in each direction. This is adjusted each year by a percentage equal to the previous year’s Consumer Price Index. For the first 180 days of tolling, the toll rate cannot exceed 75 cents per mile traveled regardless of traffic conditions, except with TxDOT’s permission. After 180 days, the dynamic tolling program will be implemented and tolls will be raised or lowered according to traffic demands.
What will the toll segments be?
Segment 1 – I-35E from Loop 12 to I-635
Segment 1a – I-35E (North of I-635 to Valwood Parkway)
Segment 2 – I-635 from Luna Road to the Dallas North Tollway
Segment 3 – I-635 from the Dallas North Tollway to US 75
Can LBJIG charge whatever they want for tolls?
No. Tolling policies are set by the Regional Transportation Council (RTC), a standing committee of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. The RTC’s current managed lanes policy can be viewed here: North Central Texas Council Managed Lanes Policy.
Toll rates vary and are unique to the region where the roadway exists, but they are always capped by state and federal authorities. A clearly defined tolling regulation and toll setting is imperative, given the importance of revenue and traffic forecasting to the development of toll projects. (Texas Association of Business; “P3 Roadways; Public-Private Partnerships that Work”)
LBJ Infrastructure Group (LBJIG) is required to increase the price of the tolls every 15 minutes when traffic reaches a maximum car-per-lane threshold or the speed drops below 50 miles per hour. LBJIG is charged a penalty under its Comprehensive Development Agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for not meeting that performance requirement. Those penalties increase as the speed continues to drop.
As a private company, LBJIG has an interest in: 1) providing TEXpress Lanes that drivers want to use, 2) providing that convenience at a price that drivers are willing to pay to avoid heavy traffic congestion.
Will I have to pay a toll to drive on the LBJ Express?
No. Drivers may choose between the free main lanes or the TEXpress Lanes.
At its widest point, the LBJ Express will include 4 main lanes in each direction, 2-3 continuous frontage road lanes in each direction, plus 3 TEXpress Lanes in each direction.
Drivers will enjoy the same number of free main lanes they currently use on LBJ, but with the benefit of lighter traffic as other drivers opt for the TEXpress Lanes.
How will I know if I will receive an HOV discount?
HOV users will enter the express toll lanes through a smartphone applications which will register their vehicle at a discounted rate.
Why are my tax dollars going to toll roads?
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) receives its funding from taxpayers, through taxes on gasoline and bond money that leverage those gas tax dollars. Over the past few years, gas tax revenue has decreased due to improved fuel efficiency in automobiles and motorists driving less frequently for a variety of reasons. The gas tax rate per gallon has not increased for nearly 20 years and does not fluctuate with the unpredictable price of gas.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments’ Regional Transportation Council (RTC) determines the prioritization and funding of transportation projects in North Texas. In our growing North Texas region, transportation needs are significantly greater than the available gas-tax dollars. Simply put, the sole source of revenue to pay for transportation projects in Texas has decreased, while both the population and need for improved roadways have increased.
In response, RTC developed the region’s managed toll lane policy. The region expects LBJIG to maintain a reliable level of service for motorists traveling at 50 mph. Because having fewer cars on the roadway improves mobility throughout the project corridor, the region also has developed a discount for mass transit and peak period carpoolers as an incentive.
Even with the addition of the new TEXpress Lanes, drivers will continue to have the choice to drive at no cost on the completely rebuilt main lanes and continuous frontage roads.
How long would it take to rebuild the LBJ Express without private funding?
To put it in perspective, the total budget for FY 2010-2011 for new construction and maintenance for all roadways in the TxDOT Dallas Division (covering a five-county area in North Texas) was $171 million.
By comparison, the total cost of the LBJ Express project, including maintenance and operations, is $2.7 billion with construction alone estimated at $2.1 billion.
Without private developers, the five-year LBJ Express project would exceed the total amount budgeted for all of TxDOT’s North Texas transportation needs and likely would be delayed for years or never built at all.
What steps will be taken to protect the environment?
The LBJ Infrastructure Group (LBJIG) believes concern for the environment is not only an important business practice, but also fundamental to being a responsible corporate citizen. The LBJ Express project integrates environmental protection into the planning and development of all project activities, as well as ensures prudent use of material and energy resources, waste management, and compliance with all environmental regulations. LBJIG has created a Comprehensive Environmental Protection Program detailing the approach, requirements and processes for protecting the environment during design, construction, operations and maintenance activities.
For more information about environmental requirements and processes, please visit: FONSI Assessment
TxDOT recently demolished several buildings at I-635 and Josey. Why, and what will happen to this land?
An Atmos natural gas line relocation was completed at the location of 2925, 2949 and 2995 LBJ Freeway. The gas line easement now lies near where those buildings were located. Please check with Atmos as to the availability of the land within the easement.
All land on the north side of I-635 roughly located between Josey and Webb Chapel between Josey and Webb Chapel was purchased by TxDOT as a single parcel. TxDOT’s right-of-way division in Austin is handling the disposition of the surplus property, including the remaining buildings.
Please contact TxDOT’s right-of-way division in Austin at 512-531-5900 or 512-531-5904 for further information.
Will trees be removed along the project, and how will you minimize the effects?
Trees are an important part of the landscape here in North Texas, including the trees and shrubs that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) planted along the I-635 right-of-way years ago.
Unfortunately, some of those trees and shrubs are in the direct path of the new roadway and must be removed in order to move utilities, build sound walls, enhance access roads and expand I-635 and I-35E to relieve traffic congestion.
TxDOT and the LBJ Express team are committed to preserving as many trees as possible during construction. Only trees and brush in the state-owned right-of-way will be removed, and any property owners whose trees or brush hang into the right-of-way will be notified in advance should their plants require trimming by LBJ Express team members.
For those trees that must be removed, the mitigation process is twofold:
- TxDOT is working with the City of Dallas to ensure an equal number of new trees are planted to offset the ones being removed.
- The LBJ Express team has incorporated native trees and plants into the landscaping plan for the LBJ Express project.
Removed trees will be turned into mulch and donated to Living Earth which, in turn, has agreed to donate the mulch to organizations and entities in North Texas.
To learn more about the tree mitigation program, see pages 38-40 of the Environmental Assessment. To review the full Environmental Assessment, please click here.
What will be done about construction and traffic noise?
As part of the improvements being made to I-635, the LBJ Express project has constructed sound walls, engineered to block traffic noise based upon extensive noise pollution tests in accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Homeowners in each affected neighborhood were given the right to vote whether or not to accept the sounds walls for their area. The sound walls were built in the initial stages to mitigate future traffic noise for residents located along the corridor and most walls are now complete.
Noise walls are designed to attenuate noise of vehicles traveling on LBJ. They are not designed to attenuate the noise decibels associated with jackhammers, backup beepers, bridge demolition, utility trenching, etc.
How will I know about detours and delays during construction?
LBJIG is committed to minimizing disruption for drivers, businesses and neighbors along the LBJ corridor. City engineers from both the City of Dallas and the City of Farmers Branch are co-located with LBJ Infrastructure Group and its general contractor to ensure that the cities are able to readily coordinate on traffic flows and patterns.
We also use all available means of communication to keep traffic moving safely during construction and to notify the public of any traffic pattern changes or expected delays, including:
- Electronic signs placed along the highways to inform drivers of closed ramps and lanes, detours or traffic switches
- Subscription-based email alerts and project e-Updates
- Social media updates through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube
- An information Hotline at (877) 525-3979
- Upcoming Construction Updates on the LBJ Express Blog
- Frequent news and updates pushed out through local news media
- An SMS texting system to notify commuters about major accidents or delays (text @lbjexpress to 23559 from your mobile to device to subscribe)
- Frequent speaking engagements and presentations to neighborhood and community groups
A representative from LBJIG can be scheduled to speak with your neighborhood association or community group. Call (877) 525-3979.
The public is also welcome to visit the LBJ Express Public Information Center at 4545 LBJ Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75244 (at the intersection of Welch Road and the westbound LBJ access road in Dallas. The Information Center is currently open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Who is building LBJ Express?
The LBJ Express improvements are being designed, financed, built, operated and maintained by the LBJ Infrastructure Group LLC (LBJIG), which was selected by the Texas Transportation Commission after a rigorous, competitive public bidding process. LBJIG is led by Cintra US, a Texas-based world leader in the private-sector development of transportation infrastructure, Meridiam Infrastructure, a global public-private partnership investor and developer of public facilities, and the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System.
What else can you tell me about the LBJ Infrastructure Group LLC?
In partnership with local communities and the State of Texas, the LBJ Infrastructure Group (LBJIG) is committed to developing and operating the safest, most advanced and reliable roadway for North Texas drivers. LBJIG and its consultants already employ more than 2,000 Texans and have a long-term commitment to the Texas. The LBJIG project also has integrated more than 100 additional Dallas-Fort Worth and Texas companies and their employees in a variety of capacities. Our goal is to work constructively with all participants as our neighbors, friends and associates.
How much has the LBJ Infrastructure Group invested in the LBJ Express project?
The LBJ Infrastructure Group (LBJIG) provided roughly two-thirds of the total financing for the project, or approximately $2.21 billion of the total $2.7 billion needed for total project. The LBJ Express is anticipated to cost $800 million to operate and maintain during the course of its 52-year lease from the State of Texas to the LBJIG under the Comprehensive Development Agreement. Such operation and maintenance costs will be the sole responsibility of LBJIG. The innovative public-private partnership enables taxpayers to leverage $490 million in public funds that were provided toward initial funding for the project to receive more than four times the value in infrastructure enhancements and traffic relief.
How does a public-private partnership to build the LBJ Express benefit the region?
Current state transportation funding cannot keep pace with the escalating demand for new and improved roadways in the rapidly growing North Texas region. The Texas Transportation Institute ranks the Dallas/Fort Worth area as the fourth most congested among large urban areas in the U.S., causing local drivers to burn 106 billion gallons of extra fuel per year and waste countless hours delayed in traffic. Given the State’s limited financial resources for infrastructure and the many projects that must compete for those resources, Texas currently is unable to provide fast-track development of much-needed roadway projects that would relieve congestion and improve safety and air quality while accommodating further anticipated growth.
The LBJ Infrastructure Group provided new sources of funding for the LBJ Express project, generating jobs and investment in the State of Texas. The public-private funding arrangement for the project combined public funds, federally backed loans, private activity bonds, bank debt and private sector equity to make this long-discussed project a reality.
The vision for the LBJ Express project is to deliver a new, viable transportation network as quickly as possible to help relieve traffic congestion and improve safety and air quality.
What is a Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA)?
A comprehensive development agreement (CDA) is a legal agreement between a government agency such as TxDOT and a private developer to build much-needed infrastructure with limited tax dollars. Private investors help pay for the needed roadway improvements in return for long-term agreements to collect tolls or receive payments, and the state retains ownership of the land and improvements. Other CDA projects in North Texas involve public/private partnerships to accelerate construction through the use of private financing. These projects include the $2.1 billion North Tarrant Expressway and the $1.02 billion DFW Connector in Tarrant County. Each of these projects will utilize tolled managed lanes in addition to the non-tolled main lanes.
How can I share my comments and questions?
Submit your comment or question through the LBJ Express Web site: CLICK HERE.
Comments can also be submitted at any time during the project, either in person, by phone, US mail, e-mail, delivery or fax to:
LBJ Infrastructure Group, LLC
4545 LBJ Freeway
Dallas, TX 75244
Phone: (214) 960-5711
Toll-free: (877) LBJ-EXPY (525-3979)
Fax: (972) 239-3512
Who owns this road?
Throughout the entire duration of the Comprehensive Development Agreement with LBJ Infrastructure Group LLC (LBJIG), TxDOT will have full ownership of the project. Under the CDA, LBJIG has the right to lease the project for 52 years, not unlike many leases by public entities to private companies.
Who will provide oversight of the project?
For the full 52 years, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will provide oversight of the project along with an independent engineer paid for by both TxDOT and LBJIG to audit every aspect of the project.
TxDOT and the independent engineer will ensure all aspects of the project are sound. This includes:
- Ensuring the dis keeping traffic flowing through the project (special attention will be paid during peak travel times).
- Monitoring toll increases to ensure the developer is assessed the appropriate penalties if the toll lane speeds drop below 50 mph, thereby ensuring that LBJIG is using the price-based-on-congestion tolling model and reporting real-time numbers for audit purposes.
Will the quality of this road be less than that of a TxDOT maintained road?
Of the many added benefits of a private company operating and maintaining the LBJ Express is the incentive for that company to provide a roadway that drivers really want to use. LBJ Infrastructure Group LLC (LBJIG) will do its best to ensure the project is well-maintained in accordance with the highest standards.
Contractually, maintenance on the road is required at standards higher than current TxDOT standards. LBJ Express developer LBJIG also has an incentive to maintain this road so drivers will have an enjoyable driving experience.
In addition, LBJIG is also required to hand back the LBJ Express to the State of Texas in a pre-defined state of good repair when the 52 lease expires. This means that the highway will be returned to the state in fully operational and valuable condition. (Texas Association of Business; “P3 Roadways; Public-Private Partnerships that Work”)
The original design capacity of the LBJ Freeway was 180,000 vehicles per day; what is the capacity of the new design?
According to the Regional Transportation Council’s 2030 Mobility Plan (Link: Click Here), the eventual demand for this portion of I-635 is 500,000 vehicles per day by 2020. There is no way the facility can be built to handle this demand. Even upon completion, the roadway would be outdated; however, in order to account for this massive increase in capacity, traffic must be managed by developing programs to control the speed of drivers through the corridor, thus the reason it is necessary to have TEXpress Lanes to keep traffic moving through the corridor.
Are trucks carrying hazardous materials allowed on the TEXpress Lanes?
Yes, all trucks will be able to use the TEXpress Lanes
Why is an east-west DART line not a part of this project?
DART and TxDOT agreed to leave access points available for DART to build a future rail tunnel under the LBJ Express. DART and the North Central Texas Council of Governments have determined that the projected number of riders do not justify a line in the corridor for the next 20 years.
DART Expansion Maps – [link to:click here].
What happens to my info when I sign up for your e-updates?
The LBJ Express Project does not sell our information to ANY LIST, nor do we implement advertising in any of our online products and are expressly prohibited from doing so by the state. LBJ Infrastructure Group LLC or Trinity Infrastructure LLC will not allow advertising (especially political advertising in our online tools).
However, the LBJ Express project team has initiated a separate website and subscription-based email list to support businesses along the corridor during the challenging construction period. We invite you to become part of the LBJ Express Marketplace, a free marketing program that bolsters businesses near the construction zone and rewards consumers for shopping, dining and doing business with these companies. Sign up and learn more at www.lbjexpressmarketplace.com.
If you receive e-Updates from us that include unsolicited advertisements, they could be add-ons from your Internet Service Provider or another party.
How will bikes be accommodated on the LBJ Express Project?
The LBJ Express will feature a shared bike/car lane incorporated into the far right through-lane on each cross street along the I-635 portion of this project. These lanes will be 14 feet wide and constructed in accordance with AAHSTO standards policies [link to:click here.].
Will White Rock Creek Trail remain open?
During the reconstruction of this corridor, it may be necessary to close trail access under I-635 to accommodate the construction and to ensure we take into account the safety of those who regularly enjoy the trail. We will make every effort possible to keep that access point open, but ask for your patience if we need to make closures. We will provide regular updates through our website, emails, social media and news outlets to ensure the public is well informed before making that decision.
The White Rock Creek Trail will remain a part of the Dallas Bike Route System. Click here for more information on the Dallas Bike Route System.
How does the success of other transportation projects in which Cintra is involved affect the financial viability of the LBJ Express?
Each transportation project is wholly independent from others, so the financial condition of one project has absolutely no bearing on the financial success and delivery of another. Each project has its own unique developer, contractor, shareholders/investors and stakeholders and is subject to the economic environment in which it is operating.
Do we need to worry about whether or not the LBJ Express will be completed?
Absolutely not. The funds for LBJ construction were secured and committed upfront, prior to the commencement of construction, according to strict terms set by the project’s lenders. The project is fully funded, underway and on track for completion in late 2015.
What assurances are in place to protect the State of Texas, taxpayers and local communities?
There are numerous safeguards built into the partnering agreements that eliminate risk to Texas and ensure that the state, taxpayers and local communities will always be protected as they continue to benefit from the creation of new roadways.
What situations or circumstances could cause the developer of the LBJ Express to default on the project?
Default through the operations phase of a transportation project is an extremely remote possibility. In the event that facility users do not utilize the highway at the expected levels over an extended period of time, there is some financial risk. However, due to our extensive modeling of projected regional growth and traffic patterns on the LBJ, we have a strong, financially viable project. Furthermore, even if revenues throughout the 52-year project term were 50 percent below forecasts, the debt would still be repaid and there would be no default.