Texas Metro 8 Chambers of Commerce Urge Governor to Allow Use of All Highway Project Financing Tools Including Tolled Managed Lanes


June 26, 2018


The state’s largest chambers of commerce have joined in urging Governor Greg Abbott to allow the use of currently available highway financing mechanisms such as tolled managed lanes that collect user fees.

 

In a June letter to the governor, the chambers also pledged to work with state lawmakers in support of new highway project delivery tools.

 

The Metro 8 Chambers, representing Arlington, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, work with the state and local governments to drive economic development.  They represent more than 20,000 Texas businesses across the state.

 

Metro 8 leaders met with Abbott in June to discuss priorities for the 2019 Session of the Texas Legislature. Governor Abbott made it clear that he would ensure the state preserves funding for transportation infrastructure as well as funding for the state’s school finance system.

 

The Metro 8 letter urged the governor “to continue prioritizing the advancement of transportation infrastructure by allowing regions and communities to implement delivery strategies that work best for their residents and local economies.”

 

The chambers warn that while Texas has been successful in attracting new companies, corporate expansions and jobs, the state is in danger of falling behind if transportation infrastructure does not keep up with growth.

 

“If we are no longer able to begin construction on projects that have local support and progressed through the approval process at the TxDOT district offices, we are at risk of companies no longer seeing Texas as a viable destination.”

 

The letter points out that user fees are used to relieve congestion, fund maintenance and operations, and lessen the burden on the overall state budget. Chamber leaders pledge to work with Governor Abbott and legislators to support new project financing tools that would not further obligate state funds.

 

The letter says the chamber leaders have concluded that managed lanes and tolls are “an incredibly important tool to leverage infrastructure funding” and meet the growing demand for efficient travel. “These tools are available now and will advance projects that have been in the pipeline for years.”  This was a reference to more than a dozen large urban projects that were removed from the state’s 10-year Unified Transportation Program last year because their proposed financing would include optional tolled managed lanes.