NEWS & PERSPECTIVES
» TxDOT pursues design-build strategy for Grand Parkway in Houston
AUSTIN, TEXAS — The greater Houston area is one step closer to reduced traffic congestion for more than 2.5 million people as the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) accelerates plans for the completion of the next phase of State Highway 99 (the Grand Parkway). TxDOT announced it is moving forward with a design-build strategy for the next sections of the Grand Parkway and is expected to issue a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for this project in early March.
This RFP is for a project to develop approximately 37 miles of new toll road for segments F1, F2 and G of the Grand Parkway in Harris and Montgomery Counties. This part of the Grand Parkway project will create a major link in the regional transportation system connecting US 59 North to US 59 South.
A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was published last November to solicit qualification statements from teams interested in entering into either a design-build contract or a concession agreement for this project. Those submittals allowed TxDOT to evaluate both delivery methods and were due earlier this month. Based on the current financial environment for major projects like the Grand Parkway as well as the strength of the traffic and revenue studies conducted for this project, TxDOT has decided to move forward using the design-build method. In February, TxDOT will review and select the best teams from those that responded to the RFQ to compete for the design-build contract.
"This is a win-win situation for drivers and businesses in Houston," said Ned Holmes, Texas transportation commissioner. "The design-build option is an ideal approach for this project to provide a high quality facility and the best value for the state."
"The timing couldn’t be better for TxDOT to undertake a design-build strategy for this project," said Ted Houghton, Transportation Commission chairman. "Area contractors are motivated to work and interest rates are quite favorable for TxDOT to move this project forward."
TxDOT received authority from the 82nd Texas Legislature under Senate Bill 1420 to develop 11 specific projects, including the Grand Parkway, through comprehensive development agreements. Although these partnerships allow the department to contract with the private sector for the design, construction and possibly financing, operation and maintenance of a project, the state retains ownership of the project at all times.
"We review and manage each one of these priority projects based on their own merits and think the design-build option is the best way to go forward on the Grand Parkway," said Phil Wilson, executive director of TxDOT. "Our goal is to provide safe, reliable and economical transportation solutions for Texas."
Senate Bill 1420 also called for the creation of local committees to make determinations regarding the best path forward on each of the 11 large projects. For the Grand Parkway, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Committee member and Fort Bend County Commissioner James Patterson led the 1420 committee.
"I commend all the committee members and volunteers who put so much time and effort into the 1420 committee," said Commissioner Patterson. "We’re at a great milestone in this project and look forward to continuing to work with TxDOT to begin construction of this critical phase of the Grand Parkway quickly."
TxDOT will continue acquiring right of way needed for the project throughout the RFP process. TxDOT expects to award a contract for this phase of the Grand Parkway by the end of the year and break ground in early 2013.
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