(Updates from paragraph three with background and details from court filings)
By Tom Hals
WILMINGTON, Del., March 2 (Reuters) - The operator of a 41-mile Texas toll road connecting San Antonio to Austin filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday due to dwindling cash, according to court documents.
SH 130 Concession Co LLC, which operates the section of state highway 130, is jointly owned by the Cintra unit of Spain’s Ferrovial SA and Zachry American Infrastructure of San Antonio.
The operator struck a $1.3 billion agreement with Texas in 2006 to finance, develop and operate segments five and six of the highway, which boasts an 85 mile-per-hour speed limit, the highest in the country.
Construction began in 2009 and the highway opened in 2012, allowing the operators to begin collecting tolls.
However, the highway never lived up to traffic projections, according to credit rating agency Moody‘s, and in court documents the operator said it had run short of cash.
Cintra was also part owner of the operator of a toll road in northern Indiana that filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
Both the Indiana privatization and the Texas toll road deal were hailed by officials at the time as an example of public-private partnerships that could develop or operate major infrastructure projects with less expense for the state.
The operator listed total liabilities of around $1.3 billion, according to documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Austin.
The case is SH 130 Concession Co LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Texas, No. 16-10262 (Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Chris Reese and Andrew Hay)