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.
Our LIBRARY includes some very valuable information about Texas transportation. They are here for you to download, including these new items:
The editorial writers at the Austin American Statesman recently pointed out that growth is overwhelming Texas highways and that the consequences are real and challenging. Growth has produced $250 million more in vehicle registration fees than expected - good enough to fund some oilpatch damage repair and maintenance projects. But the Statesman points out that the state has been kicking this can down the road for a while now. And while legislators have been kicking, the road has been deteriorating. [Read More]
Another poll has confirmed that Texans are willing to pay additional taxes and fees to have highways and roads that are well maintained and help them get to their destination safely, without undue delay and with minimal frustration. The poll found that 64% said they are willing to pay more to repair and improve highways and bridges and 57% said they are willing to pay more to add needed highway capacity. On the other hand Texans like the highways they depend on -- only 15% said they were unsatisfied with the quality of our highways and roads. [Read More]
Our state is growing fast, our highway system is getting old, funding provided does not begin to meet the needs. TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson provides an assessment of what the department will do to stretch available funding. [Read His Op-Ed Here]
Members of the Texas House and Senate came together in the end to allow Texas the opportunity to take a big step forward toward adequately funding the state's highways. The voters will decide in November 2014 whether to direct $1.2 billion a year or more to highway maintenance and construction. Sen. Robert Nichols and Rep. Joe Pickett provided the key leadership to pull together a proposed constitutional amendment that could get the required two-thirds vote in each House. A Select Committee will report to the 2015 Legislature on highway funding needs. [Read More]
During seven months of work members of the 2013 Texas Legislature passed an appropriations bill that provided highways with only a small increase in net funding. That includes $200 million a year for construction and $225 million one-time to fix rural roads being destroyed by oilfield equipment and thousands of trucks. Members also approved an assortment of other transportation related bills dealing with comprehensive development agreements, transportation reinvestment zones and local option county vehicle registration fees. [Read More]
Despite hopes that "the climate has changed," it appears that the Texas Legislature will not address the impending highway funding cliff during the legislative session that ends later this month. The last hope for passage was a vehicle registration fee bill that was withdrawn after some floor debate in the Texas House on May 9. The Transportation Advocates of Texas supported the bill along with several other pieces of legislation that would have addressed the coming plunge in highway funding. That included strong support for CSHB 479 and a companion that would have ended non-construction related diversions from the Highway Fund and harnessed the growth in vehicles tax revenues to build roads in future years.
[Read More Here]
A total of eight important bills aimed at filling the $4 billion funding gap for highway funding got a hearing before the Texas House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Budget Transparency and Reform on April 10. Bills were presented proposing increases in vehicle registration fees, curbing or eliminating diversions from the State Highway Fund, shifting a portion of the sales tax on motor vehicles to the Highway Fund, raising vehicle inspection fees to help fund the Department of Public Safety (and reduce diversions), raising the gasoline tax and modifying the State Infrastructure Bank. All these bills and resolutions are generally consistent with the goals of the Transportation Advocates of Texas and the need to take real action to address the impending Texas Highway Funding Cliff.
[Read More HERE]
More than 200 transportation professionals participating in a Transportation Advocates of Texas event heard that there has been a very noticeable change in the conversation about transportation funding during the current session of the Texas Legislature. TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson said the conservation has come to the point that parties are discussion how to fund projects and how much is needed. He praised the transportation advocates for working with state legislators and leaders in a very effective way during the past few year, particularly in the run-up to the session. [Read More]
More than 100 representatives of legislative offices and several House members attended the Feb. 7th TRANSPORTATION FUNDING 101 event presented by the Transportation Advocates of Texas. The dramatic funding shortfall facing the state was reviewed, options for creating sustainable funding were reviewed and thoughtful questions made it clear that transportation funding is widely misunderstood. Just 5% of the TxDOT appropriations request for 2014-2015 would go to new capacity construction projects. You can download presentation materials from the event and learn more here. [Read More/Download Materials].
A national research group has published its list of 100 most deficient highways and bridges in Texas and the results show things are getting worse. TRIP, a nonprofit group, compiled the list that includes metropolitan portions of Interstate 30, Interstate 45, Interstate 35, US 75, US 290, Loop 410 and more including replacement of the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge, considered to be a mega project. The report warns that Texas needs to spend more on highways to keep pace with population and economic growth. Release of the TRIP report resulted in dozens of media stories throughout the state directing attention to the need for additional sustained highway funding. [Read More/Download the Report].
The Texas House Transportation Committee says that the current gas tax won’t meet future transportation needs and that we must explore other sources of funding. In a Final Interim Report to the new 83rd Texas Legislature, the committee concludes that the highway funding shortfall is huge and growing. They lay out funding options and implore colleagues to work toward establishing long-term solutions to deal with declining revenues from the gas tax and with diversions from the State Highway Fund. [Read More]
The Dallas Morning News weighed in with a straight-talk Sunday editorial pointing out that members of the Texas Legislature have not been serious for years about paying the true cost of our highway system. "Austin has got to get serious about a long-term, sustainable transportation plan," the editors said as they endorsed "all of the above" to help address the state's real highway funding crisis. [Read the Editorial]
TAoT is again stressing that while there is some Good News about transportation, that news is being overshadowed by the Bad News of decaying pavement, congestion and declines in dedicated highway funding. The facts have been distilled into a simple summary sheet that makes the case for wisely addressing sustainable highway funding. It makes the point that the state's highway infrastructure is failing to keep pace with population and economic growth. The awarding of new highway project contacts will drop drastically in 2014 if there is no change. [Read More]
Texas' crumbling roads are costing drivers plenty and roads will continue to deteriorate, new safety and capacity improvements won't keep up with growth unless new funding sources are found. A new report shows just how much the cost for each Texas driver is -- as much as $2,000 per year in some area. That burden results from extra vehicle operating costs, excess vehicle depreciation, traffic crashes related to road conditions, increased fuel costs and congestion delays. You can download the entire report here. [Read More]
Underfunding highways costs Texans more, not less. Texans are paying with their time, safety and pocketbooks. There are large, real hidden costs that don't get talked about enough. They are absorbed by everyone. They are the cost of doing nothing about transportation funding. A&M's Texas Transportation Institute says motorists in urban Texas are spending on average 37 hours extra in traffic delays every year. The Cost of Doing Nothing is high. Texas community leaders and businesses are uniting to send a message to members of the Legislature that it is time to invest in highways again. [Read More]
Bigger ships mean greater shipping efficiency and will bring increased traffic to Texas seaports, highways and railroads. The Panama Canal expansion to accommodate much bigger ships will be complete in 2014. TxDOT has created a Panama Canal Stakeholder Working Group that is looking at ways TxDOT can help ensure that Texas is well-positioned to capitalize on canal expansion-related economic opportunities. [Read More]
There was important testimony at a Texas Capitol hearing. Texas has "maxed out" the transportation credit card. The state has been issuing bond debt to pay for highway projects to the tune of $17.3 million. It will take about $31 million to repay that debt over the next three decades. In the meantime that money will not be available to build and maintain highways. Lawmakers are looking at the problem but are less than optimistic about a breakthrough solution. [Read More]