A service of

Texas transportation board to vote on SH 288 P3 termination

The Texas Transportation Commission will vote on a resolution to terminate the P3 agreement for the State Highway 288 Toll Lanes project (SH 288) at its 28 March meeting.

The commission, which includes five members and an executive director, governs the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

“The Texas Transportation Commission is considering the initiation of steps that would potentially terminate the Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) with the developer Blueridge Transportation Group (BTG) on SH 288 in Harris County,” a TxDOT spokesperson said in an email to Infralogic. “This action is being considered because this specific contract provides for a “buy out” provision, which we believe is substantially below the value of future revenues on the corridor. The steps involved in this process would take several months to complete.”

TxDOT entered into a comprehensive development agreement for the DBFOM of the project in Harris County in 2016 with Blueridge Transportation Group LLC (BTG). Equity sponsors in the consortium at the time were: ACS Infrastructure Development (21.62%); Shikun & Binui (21.62); InfraRed Infrastructure (21.62); Northleaf (18.03%); Clal Houston Road RH (9.54%); Clal Shoreland RF, LP (2.57%); and Star America (5%).

In April 2023, ACS announced an agreement, via its subsidiary Iridium, to acquire an additional 21.62% stake in BTG from Shikun & Binui for USD 450m, thus taking full ownership.

In July 2023, ACS agreed to transfer its 56% stake in the highway to Abertis, as part of an agreement reached with its partner Mundys.

“During the Thursday the 28th meeting the Texas Transportation Commission will discuss possible authorization for TxDOT to exercise its termination rights under the SH 288 concession agreement,” a Grupo ACS spokesperson said in an email to Infralogic. “Therefore, at this time no authorization has been given and no decision has been made.”

Abertis did not respond to requests for comment.

Toll roads in Texas have run into significant headwinds in recent years. In an 11 December 2023, article in the Texas Observer, the author, Josephine Lee reported on the death of construction worker Alejandro Pimental, who was working on SH 288 when he fell to his death. A central thesis of the article is that a P3 such as SH 288 allows TxDOT to abdicate its responsibility to construction workers and drivers.

The article also mentions vocal public opposition to toll road projects. Anti-toll group Texans for Toll-free Highways (TTH) labels tolls as “double taxation and the most inefficient way to pay for roads,” in a statement on their website.

TTH also says on its website that it “defends taxpayers from the use of controversial financing methods called public-private partnerships,” saying the deals lead to “eminent domain abuse.”