The Transportation Commission regular monthly meeting is scheduled to be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 27th in Austin. The schedule could change to accommodate the legislative calendar.
The Senate Transportation Committee will meet at 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 26th, to consider bills dealing with replayment of funding TxDOT puts into toll projects, payment of tolls, allocation of certain funds to transportation projects and other topics.
The House Transportation Committee will meet at 8 a.m. Thursday, April 27th, to take up bills dealing with topics including transportation reinvestment zones, toll violators, and powers of navigation districts and port authorities.
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.
New Texans Don't Bring
Any Roads With Them
MORE THAN 1,200 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%.
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Here are some recent stories indicating the trends in Texas transportation policymaking:
Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDAs) have been an important tool in getting major projects built in Texas over the past decade. While not appropriate for most highway contracting, CDAs are an important tool in the toolbox of transportation finance and project development. They have been used for such projects as the Grand Parkway, the DFW Connector and the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge Replacement. As a result of private sector investment through CDAs more than $8 billion in major projects have been delivered with only $1.4 billion in state and local funds. [Read More]
The Texas Legislature's budget writers have faces a special challenge this year. While they take different approaches, both House and Senate budgets recognize the importance of staying on path toward funding transportation needs and respecting the voice of Texas voters. Members of the Transportation Advocates of Texas appreciate this commitment by lawmakers. We are confident House and Senate conferees will produce a good budget for Texas that maintains that commitment to highway preservation, upgrades and expansion. [Read More]
For more than two decades it has been obvious to everyone that Texas has been under investing in our aging highway system. Even as the buying power of traditional transportation funding sources dwindles, the political will to consider new revenue sources has been insufficient. The 2013 and 2015 legislatures recognized the problem and asked Texas voters if they wanted to use existing revenues to begin addressing the growing highway funding gap. Texans said YES loud and clear. That was a promise made and it should be a promise kept. We have a chart that shows how much funding is at risk. [Read More]
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]
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]
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]