DALLAS — The Texas Department of Transportation will tap revenues from a high-speed tollway bypassing Austin to add tolled lanes to the city’s airport, officials said.
Plans call for toll lanes on Texas 71 from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to the recently completed Texas 130 tollway that has the highest speed limits in the state at 85 miles per hour.
A new, 41-mile section of Texas 130 was built by a private consortium called the SH 130 Concession Company, made up of the Spanish company Cintra and San Antonio based-Zachry American Infrastructure.
The state retains ownership of the tollway that opened Oct. 24 and collects some of the toll revenues. Cintra and Zachry are under contract to maintain and operate Texas 130 for 50 years. The project was the state’s first such public-private partnership.
As part of its contract with TxDOT, the company paid the state $100 million after the Texas Transportation Commission voted to open the tollway to vehicles driving 85 mph.
Using the $100 million from the concessionaire, TxDOT announced Wednesday that it would be able to restore plans to build toll lanes on a two-mile section of Texas 71 connecting Texas 130 and the airport.
The budget for the project would include $20 million already set aside for a related project and a TxDOT loan of about $60 million to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.
The mobility authority that owns and operates the 183-A and U.S. 290 East tollways, would operate the Texas 71 tollway upon completion.
The authority would repay the TxDOT loan from tolls.
Officials said the project could begin before the end of 2014 and would likely be completed in 2016 at a cost of about $140 million.
The Texas 71 toll project between U.S. 183 and Texas 130 had been on local transportation plans during the previous decade, but were dropped when TxDOT’s finances became restrained.
The Texas 130 toll road recorded its first fatality in November when a Lockhart, Texas woman’s vehicle was struck after she attempted to merge onto Texas 130 from U.S. 183.
The department had recently lowered the speed limit on the untolled U.S. 183 to 55 mph from 65 mph while setting the speed limit on the adjoining tollway 30 mph higher.