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Texas 288 toll lane work expected mid-2016

Construction of new toll lanes in the median of Texas 288 will start a few months later than initially planned, as the Texas Department of Transportation and the concessionaire finalize details of the deal, which ties the state and builders to a half-century relationship.

“We are finalizing our contract negotiations and hope to have final closing by the end of the year,” said Raquelle Lewis, spokeswoman for TxDOT in Houston. “To that end, we anticipate construction should be underway this summer.”
On that timeline, the 10.3-mile tollway from U.S. 59 to Brazoria County would be completed in 2018, Lewis said.

The 288 project is one of the most substantial planned in the Houston area, especially as development of toll roads irks some commuters. Construction of the lanes is estimated to cost $800 million, and be the major component of a $2.1 billion, 52-year deal between the state and Blueridge Transportation Group.

Blueridge is a partnership, led by the Spanish construction giant Grupo ACS, global investment firm InfraRed Capital Partners and the Israeli building and real estate company Shikun & Binui Ltd.

The tollway will be the first in the Houston area built under a concession agreement, wherein the companies build and maintain the road and in return can charge a toll to operate the lanes in the state right of way.

The Texas 288 corridor is among the most congested in the area, especially between Pearland and the Texas Medical Center. The tollway will include direct connections to the Sam Houston Tollway and local streets in the Texas Medical Center.

When Blueridge was chosen in February, officials anticipated finalizing the contract in mid-2015, so construction could begin later this year.

Brazoria County plans its own section of the tollway, which will carry the lanes to County Road 58, near where officials expect another major toll project, the Grand Parkway, to cross.