Israeli firm wins first big US job: $800m Texas toll highway

Three years after setting up an office in the US, an Israeli firm has won its first major road-building job there – making toll lanes on a 10-mile stretch of state highway near Houston, Texas.

Infrastructure firm Shikun & Binui is a 50% partner in a consortium called Blueridge Transportation Group, which was selected by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to design, build, finance, operate the new toll lanes on SH-288 in Harris County.

Under the public-private partnership agreement, once they build it, Blueridge will collect tolls on the road for 52 years. Spain’s ACS Servicios y Concesiones, and InfraRed Capital Partners are the other two consortium members.

The whole project is estimated to cost more than $1bn, with actual construction costs of around $800m, Shikun & Binui said.

"This win proves that we have the know-how to set a goal and achieve it," said Shikun & Binui’s chief financial officer, Tal Raz. "About three years ago, we inaugurated the US headquarters for managing infrastructure projects in the US."

Chairman of Shikun & Binui, Moshe Lahmani, said, "This year we celebrated the 90th year of Shikun & Binui, and I am pleased that to mark the year, we have brought a new big project, in a new country."

Last year, Shikun & Binui won a similar contract for a toll road on a ring-road around Bogota, Colombia, totaling $550 million.

Now the consortium needs to secure financing for the Texas project. 

The works will include 4-lane express tolled lanes in the median of the existing highway, the reconstruction of a major interchange and multiple bridges and the installation of an electronic tolling system. Construction is expected to take three years.

In the first three quarters of 2014, international revenues from non-Israeli infrastructure projects amounted to $2bn, or 45% of total revenues of the Group, the company said.

Photograph: State Highway 288 in Texas, which is soon to be tolled. Courtesy of AARoads

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