The Commission will hold the regular monthly meeting at 9 a.m. December 15th in Austin.
The House Transportation Committee will meet at 9 a.m. on December 7th to hear invited testimony regarding automomous vehicles, safety issues and the Sunset process.
The Long-Term Transportation Planning Infrastructure Subcommittee of House Transportation will meet at 1 p.m. on December 7th to take invited testimony from TxDOT on response to HB 20. HB 20 focuses on revising the planning and programming processes that TxDOT, planning organizations, and the Transportation Commission use to prioritize and finance transportation projects, and the requirement that TxDOT adopt a performance-based planning and programming process with performance metrics, measures and scoring for project selection, while requiring local transportation organizations to develop a 10-year plan for the use of funding allocated to the region.
SUNSET -- The Texas Department of Transportation is under legislative Sunset Review. The Sunset Advisory Commission will take testimony regarding TxDOT in a public meeting set for December 8 and 9th. The Commission will adopt recommendations at a meeting tentatively set for January 11th. You can view TxDOT's 2015 Sunset Self-Evaluation Report HERE.
New Texans Don't Bring
Any Roads With Them
MORE THAN 1,000 NEW RESIDENTS every day help make Texas an economic powerhouse. They bring their cars and trucks but leave their roads behind. From 2014 to 2015 total registered vehicles in Texas grew by 260,000 and the number of licensed Texas drivers grew by 1.5 million. The Texas population has increased 55% since 1990 while the state's roadway miles have increased only 7%.
CHALLENGE - Funding the Diverse Transportation Needs of a Vast and Rapidly Growing State Transportation Advocates of Texas is a statewide coalition that brings together cities, counties, established community and regional organizations and business interests to support additional funding to address the challenging highway transportation demands facing the state. We support funding solutions for infrastructure improvements that reduce congestion, enhance safety, move commerce, create jobs and improve the quality of life in Texas.
The nation's highway agency top executives want to impress on the leadership of the Trump Administration that the Highway Trust Fund will soon be back in crisis mode unless the federal government provides a long-term funding stream to make it solvent. The current highway funding authorization (the FAST Act) expires in 2021. It is being funded in part from general revenues rather than dedicated user fees, primarily the fuels tax. At that point there will be significant revenue shortfalls and disruption of highway programs unless there is a long-term fix. [Read More]
Senate Transportation Chairman Robert Nichols expects the Legislature to take a fresh look at an idea aimed at funding critically needed highway projects in high growth areas. The concept was first raised a decade ago by former State Senator Steve Ogden. It would allow establishment of a zone beside a needed highway project and the capture of a portion of future state sales tax growth within the zone to help pay for the project. Nichols believes this mechanism could be significant funding source in the future. [Read More]
Among the nation's 15 most populous states, the Texas Department of Transportation is a top performer in terms of low administrative costs and cost effectiveness. That is one of the conclusions of a data analysis by the Reason Foundation in its 22nd Annual Highway Report rating the nation’s 50 state transportation departments and their highway systems. Texas has the nation's largest state-controlled highway system. Texas Ranked 3rd in overall performance among the 15 most populous states, and 19th among all states, based on 11 categories including pavement conditions, highway spending, traffic congestion and fatality rates. [Read More]
An anticipated doubling of transportation funding over the next 10 years is the result of commitment and political courage on the part of state leaders and members of the Texas Legislature. The results of their sustained efforts to address a major highway funding shortfall came into full view with the recent approval of the 10-year, $70 billion funding program by the Texas Transportation Commission. The 2017 Unified Transportation Plan directs money statewide, addressing both growing urban congestion and intercity, seaport and border connectivity needs. [Read More]
While road construction costs have risen rapidly in recent years, this growth has slowed dramatically since the Great Recession ended, particularly in the all-important category of borrowing costs. As the national economy continues to recover, however, prices will rise. Any further delays in transportation improvements may compromise the state's budget and make future decisions more expensive and more painful. That is the key conclusion of the second installment of an analysis of Texas transportation finance issues by Comptroller Glenn Hegar. The report in Fiscal Notes points to the oversized economic impacts of efficient transportation. [Read More]
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar points to aging infrastructure and a "never-ending flow" of new Texans as the root cause of the considerable challenge Texas faces in ensuring safe and efficient highways. This month Fiscal Notes, a publication of the Comptroller's Office, takes a swing at explaining how the Texas highways are financed and the failure of traditional funding sources to keep up with the significant funding gap Texas leaders have been working to deal with. [Read More]
Glenn W. Smith makes the point that highways and bridges are not just "infrastructure," they are part of our life support system. He writes that it is easy for politicians to refuse to spend money on infrastructure but it would be very hard for an elected official to look the public in the eye and say, "No.No money for life support systems. Sorry." He made his case for this alternate way of thinking about public infrastructure and terminology in a recent piece in Harvey Kronberg's Quorum Report. [Read Smith's Piece]
Texas seaports and border ports of entry are critical components of the state's transportation infrastructure and as freight volumes increase they need improved access to highways and rail facilities. Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, long-time member of the Legislature from South Texas, makes the case that as the pace quickens the state must do more to fund projects that will improve access, traffic efficiency and security at ports and at border crossings. He calls for increases overall transportation funding to allow for these investments. [Read More]
The Transportation Commission has directed $1.3 billion to 14 projects on some of the state's most congested urban highway sections. TxDOT has launched an initiative it is calling Texas Clear Lanes as a signal for the commission's goal of improving congestion gridlock at key spots in a state with a growing population and increasing highway freight traffic. The Transportation Advocates of Texas welcomes this focus and thanks state officials for their leadership. [Read More]
A statewide effort to determine congestion relief priorities resulted in the selection of 14 urban projects that can be pushed forward ahead of schedule.That list has three projects in the Houston area including reconstruction of the overwhelmed Interstate 69 and West Loop 610 interchange near the Galleria. In Dallas funding is going to two I-35 East projects including the massive Southern Gateway. There are two projects in the San Antonio Area, four I-35 projects in Austin and three upgrade projects in Tarrant County. We've compiled a list outlining each project. [Read More]
When Transportation Advocates of Texas was organized in 2010 it had a mission – finding a way to bring together many advocates to more effectively engage all 181 members of the Texas Legislature in support of additional resources to address a rapidly growing highway funding gap. Much has been accomplished in a productive five years. And there is more work to be done -- the Texas highway funding gap is still a long way from being filled. [Read More]
In January the Senate Transportation Committee began taking up the seven interim charges presented to the committee by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Topping the list is monitoring TxDOT's implementation of legislation passed in 2015 including HB 20 which directs TxDOT to adopt new project planning, prioritization, selection and programming processes. The committee is also charged with evaluating the state's vehicle inspection system, the Driver Responsibility Program and oversize/overweight vehicle regulations. [Read More]
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has issued interim charges instructing the House Transportation Committee to study a list of topic including design-build contracting, local transportation funding mechanisms, innovative transportation technologies, possible reduction in the use of tolling for new projects and agency oversight. [Read More]
Texas voters continue to approve the building blocks necessary to address the serious highway funding gap that has been facing the state. As they did with Proposition 1 in 2014, voters overwhelmingly approved Prop 7 on the Nov. 3rd ballot, dedicating about $3 billion annually in future years to building the transportation infrastructure that is needed to keep up with growth in population, commerce and freight movements. Approval of Prop 7 means that an additional $2.5 billion will flow into the State Highway Fund starting in FY 2018. The second increment of about $500 million a year will be available starting in FY 2020. Sen. Robert Nichols and Rep. Joe Pickett were key champions of both of the successful highway funding propositions. [Read More]