DALLAS — Dallas Area Rapid Transit has awarded a design-build contract for the final segment in its $1.5 billion Orange Line project that will connect Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to the DART light-rail network, officials said.

A joint venture of Kiewit, Stacy and Witbeck, Reyes, Parsons was chosen Tuesday by the DART board of directors to complete the $149.8 million segment of the Orange Line known as Irving-3, or I-3.

While the project is funded in part by DART bonds, the transportation agency is pursuing $130 million in federal funds under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, or TIGER III.

TIGER is a discretionary grant program created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 aimed at multi-modal transportation projects.

The I-3 project is a 5.2-mile extension of the Orange Line from the future Belt Line Station to DFW’s Terminal A.

The airport is currently remodeling Terminal A as part of a $1.9 billion, bond-funded redevelopment of the airport’s original four terminals that went into service in 1974.

DFW officials have said that American Airlines’ recent bankruptcy filing is not presently affecting the remodeling project but that the airport “assesses its plans in light of new circumstances that emerge, and will continue to do so.”

Construction of the I-3 portion of the Orange Line is expected to begin in early 2012 and the I-3 section is scheduled to open on Dec. 15, 2014. DFW Airport is building the Terminal A station.

The first two sections of the Orange Line — Bachman Station in North Dallas to Irving’s Las Colinas Convention Center and then on to Belt Line Station at SH 161 and Belt Line on DFW Airport property — are expected to open in 2012. Those two sections are also being built by the KSWRP joint venture.

“So many people and agencies worked to bring I-3 forward,” said DART executive director Gary Thomas. “We are ready to get to work.”

In June, Fitch Ratings downgraded DART’s senior-lien revenue bonds to AA-minus from AA, citing a rapidly growing debt load resulting from the issuance of $2.8 billion of new-money bonds since fiscal 2007.

In September 2010, Standard & Poor’s lowered its rating on DART’s $2.6 billion of outstanding senior-lien sales tax revenue bonds to AA-plus from AAA, based on an acceleration in the bonding program.

The downgrade came in advance of about $830 million of Build America Bonds issued in December.

DART’s sales-tax revenue bonds are secured by a pledge of a 1% sales tax.

Moody’s Investors Service rated the 2010 BABs Aa2 with a stable outlook.

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.