Transportation Commission

The Transportation Commission regular monthly meeting is scheduled to be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, August 30th, in Austin. The Commission will be taking final action on the 2019 Unified Transportation Program (UTP).

UTP Development

TxDOT is working on development of the 2019 Unified Transportation Program which allocates expected available funding to projects over the coming 10 years. The draft list of UTP project selections is available for public review at the TxDOT website.

Legislative Calendar

The House Select Committee on Texas Ports, Innovation & Infrastructure will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on Aug. 20th at 907 Billy Mitchell Blvd in San Antonio. The committee will look at the needs of inland/dry ports includign connectivity issues.

The Senate Transportation Committee will meet at 10 a.m on Aug. 27 at the Capitol to hear invited testimony on: (1) TxDOT's analysis of funding in the UTP and project selection decisions; and (2) to review practices of agencies imposing toll road penalties.

 

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.

 

Statewide Trends

Here are some recent stories indicating the trends in Texas transportation policymaking:

 

Dallas Morning News: Mobility 2045 Plan for North Texas Envisions Ways to Keep Millions More of Us Moving - and Includes Tolls, 6.16.18

 

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Fort Worth Declares Roundabouts a Success, Plans to Expand Them 3.9.18

 

Austin American Statesman: Should Toll Projects be Put to a Vote of Local Voters, 2.23.18

 

Public Works Financing: Texas Limiting Funding Options, by Robert Poole 1.3.18

 

Dallas Morning News: I-635 LBJ East Project in Dallas Hits Red Light Again 1.26.18

 

Austin American Statesman: I-35 Plan Adds Toll Lanes Below Ground Level 10.31.17

 

Houston Chronicle: Areas Leaders Say Time to Push Transportation Improvements Beyond Adding and Widening Freeways 12.23.16

 

Houston Chronicle: The Start Date for the Massive Set of Projects That Will Eventually Relocate I-45 Around Downtown Houston Has Just Been Moved Up By Years. Read Dug Begley's story here from 2.24.17

 

New Texans Don't Bring
Any Roads With Them

MORE THAN 1,350 NEW RESIDENTS every day help make Texas an economic powerhouse. Most bring their cars and trucks but all 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%.


Informative Reports Available

Our LIBRARY includes some very valuable information about Texas transportation. They are here for you to download.

 

 

Shuster Offers Plan to Sustain Highway Trust Fund

Congressman Bill Shuster, House Transportation Commission chairman, has offered a draft bill that would raise federal gasoline and diesel taxes for 20 years and then eliminate them to be replaced with a vehicle miles traveled fee system that would go directly to the faltering fuel tax based Highway Trust Fund. The concept is not likely to get serious consideration this year but could be a blueprint for lawmakers in the next Congress. In a vision statement Shuster, who is retiring from Congress, said the ideas in the draft reflect input form both Republicans and Democrats plus a broad number of transportation stakeholders. [Read More]

 

Gasoline Tax Rates Just Went Up in 7 States

On July 1, 2018, gasoline tax rates went up in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Indiana, Maryland, Tennessee, Vermont and Iowa. The Oklahoma rate is now the same as the rate in Texas -- 20 cents a gallon in state tax and 18.4 cents in federal tax. The Texas rate has not been raised since 1991 and joins Arizona, New Mexico, Mississippi, Missouri and Alaska with the lowest tax rates in the nation. The Texas gas tax has lost most of its construction purchasing power over the past 27 years. More than half of the states have raised their gas tax in the past five years including several that have indexed rates to adjust to inflation. [Read More]

 

Metro 8 Chambers Urge Use of All Financing Tools

The state's eight largest chambers of commerce -- the Metro 8 -- are urging Gov. Greg Abbott to allow the use of currently available highway financing mechanisms such as tolled managed lanes. In a letter the Metro 8 says all options are needed to fund projects that will relieve congestion and avoid a situation where companies no longer see Texas as a viable place to expand and create jobs. They point out that tools such as tolled managed lanes will advance projects that have been in the pipeline for years. [Read More]

 

Autonomous Vehicles = More Congestions?

What if autonomous car occupants drive more miles because they no longer need to waste the time spent in their vehicles? Could that mean more congestion? Could sharing these vehicles mean more vehicles driving around in constant circulation? Those are among the questions city planners are asking. [Read More]

 

Attorney General: Restrictions on Funding

Optional Managed Toll Lanes Unclear

Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued an advisory opinion attempting to answer a question from Rep. Joe Pickett about using restricted Prop 1 and Prop 7 money to help build optional managed tolled lanes as part of projects that also include rebuilding or adding free lanes. The opinion says state law lacks a specific definition of "toll road" and Paxton concluded that his office could not determine whether a court would construe Props 1 and 7 to allow those funds to be used in a segregated manner for a portion of the cost of projects that include both tolled and non-tolled elements. [Read More]

 

Infrastructure Plan Being Reshaped in Congress

Congressional committees have begun the process of turning the Trump Administration’s long-awaited infrastructure plan into legislation and the result is sure to be substantially different than the administration’s proposals. Congress will produce multiple pieces of legislation rather than the single program the Administration had outlined with the goal of $1.5 trillion in upgrades to a wide range of infrastructure. [Read More]

 

Lawmakers Moving Forward on Interim Charges

The Texas Senate and Texas House transportation committees are at work dealing with their interim charges, studying issues before providing recommendations for action when the Legislature meets again in January 2019. Both committees are looking at the current state of infrastructure at Texas’ seaports and border ports of entry on the Rio Grande.  The idea is to identify transportation impediments to international trade and to estimate the impact of identified problems on the state’s economy. [Read More]

 

Alvin New Joins Transportation Commission

Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed former San Angelo mayor Alvin New as the newest member of the Texas Transportation Commission. New took his place on the commission in a meeting on February 21, filling out the unexpired term of Tryon Lewis of Odessa who resigned. New is a rancher and business investor. He takes over the seat that is unofficially designated to represent rural interests. In his opening remarks after being introduced by Commission Chair Bruce Bugg, New said he would spend time listening and learning, concluding that he understands that "this is very important work for the citizens of the state of Texas."

 

Gas Tax Hike Gets Quick "No" in DC

President Trump indicated he would entertain an increase in per gallon federal taxes on gasoline and diesel, joining leading voices among transportation advocates including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Leaders in the Congress quickly put out the word that an increase in the 18.5 cent per gallon federal gas tax is not likely to happen. [Read More]

 

Truckers Urge New Federal Fuel Fees

The American Trucking Association added its voice to the calls for new federal revenue to keep the Highway Trust Fund strong and to avoid a huge funding gap that could force states to cancel or delay critical highway projects. Their plan includes a 20 cent per gallon additional fee on motor fuels across the board dedicated to shoring up the federal Highway Trust Fund. The Trucking Association asked Congress to consider establishing a fund capable of generating about $340 billion over 10 years with the new fee phased in over a period of four years. Truck traffic in the nation is expected to increase by more than 65% over the next 30 years -- and more in Texas. [Read More]

 

New Coalition to Advocate Congestion Solutions

Texans for Traffic Relief is a new coalition of community leaders and business interests formed to help advocate for solutions that mitigate the growing transportation funding challenge facing Texas, particularly the funding of projects aimed at gridlock in major cities. [Read More]

 

Texas Completes Revised Freight Mobility Plan

Freight traffic on Texas highways is expected to double over the next 25 years. The newly adopted 2017 Texas Freight Mobility Plan was developed over the past two years. A wide range of stakeholders helped identify needs and challenges by assessing existing conditions and projecting future needs based on forecasts of freight movement through the year 2045. The plan identifies more than 2,500 multimodal projects to address freight needs. It also concludes that almost all of those project are unfunded with a shortfall of about $60 billion. It predicts that congestion levels in rural and urban areas will continue to grow based on the state's population and business activity growth rates. [Read More]

 

DOTs Urge Congress to Fix Highway Trust Fund

The executive directors of Texas and other state highway departments joined with industry groups in urging Congress to make a permanent fix to the federal Highway Trust Fund as part of any tax overhaul legislation. The 52-member board of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) voted at a recent annual meeting to endorse the policy position, joining with the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of America. [Read More]

 

Hyperloop Would Add Speed to Texas Transport

A route connecting the DFW Metroplex and Austin, San Antonio, Laredo and Houston was named one of 10 winners of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Texas has a lot of the right ingredients to make such a system practical including large growing cities, mostly flat geography and high inter-regional movement of goods and people. The conceptual plan would connect five of the eight fastest growing cities in America. Hyperloop on this 640-mile corridor could start with moving critical freight and then add passenger travel as the system is proven out. The hyperlink vehicles would move at speeds up to 700 mph and cut inter-city travel times to minutes. [Read More]

 

Morris: North Texans Want Solutions "Yesterday"

"Transportation Lessons from ... Yogi Berra" -- that's the subject of an insightful and hopeful piece by Michael Morris, Director of Transportation for the DFW regional MPO. Morris reports that transportation finance innovation continues despite a pullback by state lawmakers. In the case of DFW, Morris writes that the goal is moving people through a region "whose residents and businesses want solutions to transportation challenges, yesterday." [Read More]

 

Lawmakers Keep Promise to Fund Texas Highways

Members of the Texas Legislature and Governor Abbott came through on the highway funding promises made to Texas voters in recent years. In the final week of the 2017 Regular Session lawmakers approved a state budget that kept all of the voter approved Proposition 1 and Proposition 7 funding going to the state highway system. Members kept that commitment in the face of a challenging budget year. The result is that Texas will be investing approximately $2.5 billion a year in projects that are essential to congestion relief and inter-regional connectivity. [Read More]

 

 

 

MORE PREVIOUS UPDATES