DALLAS — With financing already in place, the Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday agreed to begin seeking design-build credentials for an $815 million network of interstate highway interchanges and bridges in Dallas.

The project, known as the “Horseshoe,” will include $551 million of so-called Proposition 12 bonds authorized by voters and the Texas Legislature, said Ed Pensock, interim director of the Texas Turnpike Authority, a division of the Texas Department of Transportation.

The TTC, which supervises TxDOT, issued its first Proposition 12 bonds in 2010. In the 2011 session, lawmakers approved the use of a design-build concept for the Horseshoe under Senate Bill 1420, Pensock said.

Local and federal funds will also be used to complete the interchanges of Interstate 30 and 35 in downtown Dallas.

“It’s a huge project,” Pensock said. “This project carries 350,000 vehicles per day. The structures there are old, and they are deteriorating rapidly.”

The project includes two bridges designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. A third Calatrava bridge is already nearing completion over the Trinity River nearby.

The TTC, in its first meeting under newly appointed chairman Ted Houghton, authorized TxDOT to request qualifications for firms interested in the design-build contract. The department has already completed about 30% of the design for the project, which Pensock said is typical before a firm is hired to complete the project.

At last month’s meeting, led by former TTC chair Deirdre Delisi, the commission approved distribution of $3 billion in Prop 12 funding for various projects. The funds represent the balance of $5 billion of general obligation bonding authority approved by voters and first authorized by the Legislature in 2007.

Construction contracts for the first $2 billion in transportation projects were approved in 2010.

The Horseshoe project comes as TxDOT is expanding Interstate 35 from Austin to Hillsboro, south of Dallas. At Hillsboro, I-35 splits into an eastern segment to Dallas and a western leg through Fort Worth. They rejoin in Denton, about 35 miles north of the two cities.

One major project that is in the planning stages but has not been funded is the expansion of the I-35E between Dallas and Denton. That project is expected to include toll lanes and free lanes.

Houghton, a board member from El Paso, was named chairman by Gov. Rick Perry earlier this month.

Houghton replaced Delisi, Perry’s former chief of staff who is now working full time on the governor’s campaign for the Republican nomination for president.

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