The 8.4-mile, $1.1 Billion ($2013) DFW Connector project began construction in February 2010 and achieved final acceptance in March 2014. The project included both general purpose and managed lanes which doubled the size of the highway system north of the DFW International Airport. The primary motivation was to enhance mobility, decrease congestion, and improve access to the DFW International Airport. The project created an estimated 167 jobs.
Project Type:Connector Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:129,399 Length (mi):8.40
Economic Distress:0.35 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):2501 Population Growth Rate (%):2.46
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.54 Market Size:4,255,758 Airport Travel Distance: Topography:5
Region:Southwest State:TX County:Tarrant and Dallas Counties
City:Grapevine, Southlake, & Irving Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:Cities of Grapevine, Southlake, & Irving
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:32.922841 / -97.063240
Initial Study Date:2009 Post Constr. Study Date:2016
Constr. Start Date:2010 Constr. End Date:2014
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2010 Planned Cost (YOE $):906,989,921
Actual Cost (YOE $):1,020,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):1,100,769,070
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||5.57||3.32||8.89|
|Output (in $M's)||11.33||9.25||20.58|
The 8.4-mile, $1.1 Billion ($2013) DFW Connector project began construction in February of 2010 and was completed in March 2014. The project included both general purpose and managed lanes along state highways (SH) 114 and 121, which taken together roughly doubled the size of the highway system to the north of the DFW International Airport. The primary motivation of the DFW Connector project was to enhance mobility and improve access to the DFW International Airport, surrounding commercial centers, as well as improve operational efficiency and decrease congestion. The DFW Connector project has created an estimated 167 jobs, primarily in the restaurant industry and from the relocation of Kobota Tractor Corp.’s headquarters, and Mercedes Benz regional training facility
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The DFW Connector project is located just to the north of the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, the 11th busiest passenger airport in the world, and the fourth largest in the United States. The project concentrated primarily within the cities of Grapevine and Southlake, includes improvements to both SH 114 and SH 121, and intersects with other major highways including SH 97, SH 26, SH 360, and I-635. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) authority provides light rail, commuter rail, bus, and paratransit services within the project area. Nearby stations include the DFW International Airport and Belt Line, both located on the DART light rail Orange Line.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Between 2009 and 2016 the population of Grapevine, Southlake and Irving increased from 278,758 to 306,746 (+10%). Over this same period the population of Dallas and Tarrant Counties increased from 4,241,630 to 4,591,856 (+8%), and the population of the State of Texas increased from 24,782,302 to 27,862,596 (+12%). Similarly, the total employment in Grapevine, Southlake and Irving increased from 277,327 to 324,435 (+17%), while the total employment in Dallas and Tarrant Counties increased from 1,509,413 to 1,724,043 (+14%), and the total employment for the State of Texas increased from 14,243,397 to 16,644,197 (+17%). The local per capita income however did not increase at similar rates to the county and state. The per capita income of Grapevine, Southlake and Irving increasing from $31,222 to $34,202 (+10%), the per capita income of Dallas and Tarrant Counties increased from $39,000 to $51,227 (+31%), and the State of Texas increased from $36,695 to $46,274 (+26%). Growth in employment primarily occurred in the retail trade and health care and social services within the three cities. However, employment growth at the county level occurred in higher paying industries including professional, scientific, and technical services, and finance and insurance. The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is home to 43% of the state’s high-tech workers, and Dallas is referred to as the “Silicon Prairie” due to the concentration of technology employers in the area. The Dallas/Fort Worth market is expected to see continued growth, increasing to 10 million and 16,768,007 respectively by 2050.
According to the Environmental Assessment for the DFW Connector, most of the employment within the DFW Connector corridor is concentrated within the DFW International Airport. Other nearby employment centers include the central business districts of Dallas, Fort Worth, and Las Colinas. The primary industries within the study area include retail trade (11.1%), professional, scientific, tech services (10.7%), and health care and social services (9.8%). The area’s largest employer is the DFW International Airport with approximately 60,000 employees in 2017, followed by Game Stop Corporation (3,300), UPS (2,000), Gaylord Texan Resort (1,800), and Baylor Hospital (1,800).
The primary motivation of the DFW Connector project was to enhance mobility and improve access to the DFW International Airport and commercial centers. The DFW Connector project was pursued to address specific operational deficiencies including weaving issues to the north of the airport that occurred at the convergence of several major highways, locally known as “The Funnel”. Improving safety and alleviating congestion were secondary motivations, as well as accommodating future growth.
Construction of the $1.1 billion ($2013), 8.4-mile DFW Connector began in February 2010 and achieved “final acceptance” in March 2014. The project includes non-tolled lanes on SH 121 and SH 114, and managed lanes on SH 114 which began dynamic pricing in January 2015. At their widest points, the non-tolled lanes are 8-lanes westbound and 6-lanes eastbound on SH 114, and 7-lanes northbound and 6-lanes eastbound on SH 121. The managed lanes are two in each direction on SH 114 and extend for four miles. Together, the tolled and non-tolled lanes roughly doubled the size of the highway system north of DFW International Airport. The project was one of the first design-build projects pursued by the state, and was funded entirely by TxDOT through state funding ($696 million), ARRA funds ($261 million), Prop. 14 bonds ($17.2 million), and Prop. 12 bonds ($32 million). It included several innovations including the first mobile app to disseminate project updates, conditions, and closures.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
According to the Environmental Assessment for the DFW Connector project, before the project, SH 114 and SH 121 experienced severe congestion and reduced traffic flow during weekday peak hours due to exceeding roadway capacity. Capacity of the SH 114/SH 121 concurrent route was 160,000 vehicles per day (vpd) in 2003 prior to the project and was expected to reach 350,000 vpd by 2025 according to the Environmental Assessment. In 2014 after the first phase of the DFW Connector project was open to traffic, the AADT at the intersection of SH 114 and SH 121 was 94,438. This increased to 129,399 in 2016.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Prior to construction, the area surrounding the project in the cities of Grapevine and Southlake was primarily zoned and developed for commercial, retail, and industrial uses. The bulk of this corridor was already developed prior to the completion of the project, primarily for residential development with some remaining space for growth in commercial development. In 2013, just prior to the completion of the DFW Connector project, the City of Grapevine purchased a 185-acre tract of land from former Texas Rangers baseball player Rafael Palmeiro. The city purchased the property before it went into foreclosure when Palmeiro filed for bankruptcy in 2011. The purpose was to enable more control over its development following master plan guidelines to ensure strategic development objectives outlined by the city could be achieved. Improved accessibility was a major motivation for businesses locating to this site. The project included improvements to every major highway near Grapevine and Southlake, including interchanges with I-635 and SH 26, and improved accessibility not only to the DFW International Airport but also nearby cities of Dallas and Fort Worth. Improved access to the airport and the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area was cited by interviewed area officials and local companies as driving force for businesses locating to the area.
One company that relocated its headquarters from California to Grapevine, Texas in 2017 was Kobota Tractors. The new 193,000-square foot Kobota Tractor Corp. Headquarters located to the Palmeiro development site and is currently home to 275 employees with ample space to expand up to 600 employees. Kobota received incentives from both the City of Grapevine and the State of Texas to relocate to this site, including a $3.8 million grant from the Texas Enterprise fund however only 14 jobs are directly attributable to the project because it was a secondary motivation for locating their headquarters in Grapevine after other important incentives and operational efficiencies. Mercedes Benz also received financial incentives, including tax rebates, from both the City of Grapevine and the State of Texas which was catalyst to relocate a both technical training facility from Houston, Texas and a distribution center from nearby Fort Worth, Texas. However, since the distribution center was relocated from within the county no jobs from this portion of the development were attributed to the project. The 59,000-square foot technical training facility currently has 50 full-time employees with only 3 jobs directly attributable to the project because it was a secondary motivation after considering other incentives and operational efficiencies.
Three major full-service restaurants located in the City of Grapevine during and immediately after the construction of the project. These restaurants include Salt Lick, Perry’s Steakhouse, and Bob’s Chop House. According to interviewees with the City of Grapevine, all are considered destination points and draw patrons from outside of the city and therefore are considered directly attributable to the transportation improvement. Together they account for 150 net new jobs. In total, 167 jobs were created due to the DFW Connector.
Residential development has been limited since the bulk of the corridor was already built out. Grapevine Bluffs, a 472-unit multi-family development located at the Palmeiro site was identified as being partially attributed to the project and is set to open in February 2018.
Interviews with local officials indicated that after the completion of the project, specific businesses were targeted with incentives to spur development in the area. These incentives, provided by the city, are expected to continue to attract future development especially for undeveloped portions of the Palmeiro site in Grapevine. No changes in zoning or infrastructure investments were cited as additional factors to spur economic development.
Organization, Name, Title
North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), Dan Lamers, Senior Program Manager, Transportation Planning
North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), Sandy Wesch, Project Engineer
City of Grapevine, Bryan Beck, Director of Public Works
City of Grapevine, Jerry Hodge, Director of Public Works (retired)
TxDOT, Jodi Hodges, Fort Worth PIO
TxDOT, Tony Hartzel, PIO Supervisor
TxDOT, Joel Mallard, DFW Connector Project Manager
Case Study Developed by University of Maryland