U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Tuesday that Texas' North Tarrant Express project has entered the final stage to receive $415 million under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) financing program, advancing a project that will address safety and congestion.
The North Texas project includes improvements to sections of I-35W and construction of an interchange at I-35W and I-820. In addition, the project develops multimodal managed lanes to serve the region's public transportation providers. The portions of I-35W slated for improvement currently rank 5th and 25th on the list of Texas' most congested roadways. The Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) North Tarrant Express application requested $537 million in Fiscal Year 2012 TIFIA credit assistance.
In recent years, TxDOT sought funding for North Tarrant Express improvements from the U.S. Department of Transportation TIFIA credit assistance, TIGER III and TIGER IV programs. Funds for the Fiscal Year 2012 TIFIA program were appropriated in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2012.
"I'm thankful that Secretary LaHood and the U.S. Department of Transportation will partner with us on the North Tarrant Express with this significant award. This would not have been possible without the constant support of the community's public and private sector leaders," said Bill Meadows, a member of the Texas Transportation Commission from Fort Worth. "The North Tarrant Express project will address congestion in a corridor critical for national and international trade, improving our region's transportation network and advancing the development of multimodal managed transit lanes to serve our region's public transportation providers."
"No words can describe how pleased we are with this announcement. Countless partners from all levels of government, along with hundreds of citizens and business leaders, have continued to fight the good fight for I-35W. Today's news is a credit to the tenacity of all involved," said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. "On behalf of the people and businesses of Fort Worth, we thank the U.S. Department of Transportation for its consideration and approval of our request. We also thank the members of our Congressional delegation who've been champions of this effort from the very beginning. This is a perfect example of how public/private and public/public partnerships can work for the greater good of a community. This $415 million removes significant obstacles to expanding I-35W, and it will ultimately help us preserve the good quality of life and economic prosperity that we've enjoyed here in North Texas."
TxDOT has planned extensively for I-35W improvements with its local partners while aggressively seeking a funding award. Construction could begin in 2013, subject to a final agreement with TxDOT's project partners, and subsequent determination of legal sufficiency by the Attorney General and Legislative Budget Board approval.
"The North Tarrant Express project leverages federal investment with significant state and private contributions," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. "This public-private partnership will improve the entire I-35 corridor and the ability to transport goods and services throughout the nation."