A dispute between the Texas Department of Transportation and state attorney general's office threatens to once again delay the North Tarrant Express project, which includes the widening of Loop 820 in Northeast Tarrant County.
The dispute also could delay expansion of LBJ Freeway in Dallas.
The project includes construction of new toll and nontoll lanes between Interstate 35W and North East Mall, plus expansion of Texas 121/183 in Bedford and Hurst. The project is to be managed by a group of private developers known as NTE Mobility Partners, which is headed by the U.S. arm of Spanish firm Cintra. However, state law enacted two years ago requires that the AG's office review agreements between the state transportation department and private developers before any work can begin.
The AG's office objects to the wording in the agreement between the transportation department and NTE Mobility Partners, according to a May 28 AG letter to transportation department executive director Amadeo Saenz Jr. The AG is concerned that the project commits the transportation department to spend public money over a longer period of time than the agency is allowed under state law.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley is livid, noting that if the dispute causes further delays to North Tarrant Express, the Fort Worth area could lose some of its highway funding, under financial penalties spelled out in a preliminary agreement signed in January. Under that agreement, the project was expected to clear this hurdle with the AG's office by April.