The Transportation Commission meeting date and TIME for March has been changed. The regular meeting will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28th in Austin. The Commission will vote on 2017 Unified Transportation Program March updates.
The Senate Transportation Committee will meet at 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 29th.
The House Transportation Committee will meet at 8 a.m., Thursday, March 30th.
New Texans Don't Bring
Any Roads With Them
MORE THAN 1,100 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%.
THE CHALLENGE FACING TEXAS- 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.
To learn more about TAoT and the value of participating as a member organization download our informational folder:
Advocate Folder (for email) DOWNLOAD
Here are some recent stories indicating the trends in Texas transportation policymaking:
TAoT Chairman Dennis Kearns makes the case that this is no time for the Legislature to take a step backward by failing to fully appropriate the highway construction funds overwhelmingly approved by Texas voters in 2014 and 2015. Texans clearly want more of their current tax dollars spent on improving their ability to move people and product; roads are critical to our economic viability and quality of life. [Read the full statement here]
One of the Texas transportation advocates has produced a video that explains the highway funding promises made to Texas voters over the past few years. The facts are pretty simple. The Legislature set out to fill much of a $5 billion a year funding gap. The proposals promising to deal with the problem went to the voters twice and Texans backed highway funding LOUD and CLEAR both times. You'll see what we mean when you view the 3 minute video produced by Texas Infrastructure Now. (HERE)
Senator Robert Nichols returns for a third session as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and Rep. Geanie Morrison of Victoria is the new chairman of the House Transportation Committee. The Senate Committee has five returning members and four newcomers while the House Committee has seven returning members and six new members. [Read More]
The Transportation Advocates of Texas legislative program for the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature calls for full appropriation of Prop 1 and Prop 7 funding for transportation projects in the coming biennium. Gov. Greg Abbott's proposed budget alls full Prop 7 funding a promise to invest in infrastructure made to voters. The TAOT legislative program also supports continued use of financing tools available to move projects forward including tolling, managed lanes and public private partnerships. [Read More]
While many Texans live in regions where there is only modest growth, the state continues to add more than 1,100 new people every day. In the six years since the 2010 Census the state's population has ballooned by 2.7 million. That is equal to adding the residents of a city the size of Austin to the state every two years. Texas added the most population during the period of any state (California - 2.0 million, Florida - 1.8 million). All those new Texans are filling up the capacity on our highways and streets. [Read More]
The state's urban traffic congestion relief initiative ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott has been energized by highway funding approved by voters in Proposition 1 and Proposition 7. In an op-ed piece, Transportation Commission Member Bruce Bugg talks about progress being made under the Texas Clear Lanes program which targets the five major metropolitan areas with populations of more than 1 million -- Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin. They are home to 97 of the state's 100 most congested roadways. Drivers in those metro areas lose millions of hours of family time annually while stuck in traffic. [Read Commissioner Bugg's Op-Ed]
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]
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]