The Commission will hold the regular monthly meeting at 9 a.m. February 25th in Austin.
. The Senate Transportation Committee will meet at 9 a.m. March 29th at the Capitol to hear invited testimony regarding regional mobility authorities; demand on ports and highways resulting from the Panama Canal expansion; and oversize and overweight vehicles.
New Texans Don't Bring
Any Roads With Them
MORE THAN 1,000 NEW RESIDENTS every day help make Texas an economic powerhouse. They bring their cars and trucks but leave their roads behind. The Texas population has increased 55% since 1990 while the state's roadway miles have increased only 7%.
CHALLENGE - 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
In January the Senate Transportation Committee began taking up the seven interim charges presented to the committee by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Topping the list is monitoring TxDOT's implementation of legislation passed in 2015 including HB 20 which directs TxDOT to adopt new project planning, prioritization, selection and programming processes. The committee is also charged with evaluating the state's vehicle inspection system, the Driver Responsibility Program and oversize/overweight vehicle regulations. [Read More]
The new five-year federal highway bill includes two provisions that will help change the face of Texas in the decades ahead. The bill adds 73 miles of State Highway 44 in South Texas to the state's border-to-border Interstate 69 System. It creates a new Central Texas Corridor generally following US 190 and designates it as future Interstate 14. The new interstate corridor begins in West Texas and will serve Fort Hood/Killeen, Belton, Bryan/College Station, Huntsville, Livingston and Woodville while providing a new east-west connection between I-35, I-45 and future I-69. [Read More]
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has issued interim charges instructing the House Transportation Committee to study a list of topic including design-build contracting, local transportation funding mechanisms, innovative transportation technologies, possible reduction in the use of tolling for new projects and agency oversight. [Read More]
Texas voters continue to approve the building blocks necessary to address the serious highway funding gap that has been facing the state. As they did with Proposition 1 in 2014, voters overwhelmingly approved Prop 7 on the Nov. 3rd ballot, dedicating about $3 billion annually in future years to building the transportation infrastructure that is needed to keep up with growth in population, commerce and freight movements. Approval of Prop 7 means that an additional $2.5 billion will flow into the State Highway Fund starting in FY 2018. The second increment of about $500 million a year will be available starting in FY 2020. Sen. Robert Nichols and Rep. Joe Pickett were key champions of both of the successful highway funding propositions. [Read More]
Editorial boards at the state's major newspapers are unanimous in urging Texas voters to approve Proposition 7, the highway funding amendment on the Nov. 3rd ballot. They agree that it is essential to provide the funding that is needed to start catching up on the backlog of highway construction and maintenance needs that grow worse by the day as facilities age, the Texas population grows and vital freight volume builds. Early voting for the election ends on Friday, Oct. 30th. [Read More]
Senator Robert Nichols, chairman of the Texas Senate Transportation Committee is calling on Texans to help solve the shortfall in highway funding and to again join in seeing that the state makes necessary investments for the future. In an editorial page piece written by Sen. Nichols, he encourages voters to make time to cast their vote for Proposition 7 in the November 3rd constitutional amendment election. Early voting started October 19th and ends on October 30th. [Read Nichol's Column]
Statewide leaders, lawmakers and local community leaders are coming together in broad support for voter passage of Proposition 7 which would provide billions in additional funding for the State Highway Fund. With strong urging from Gov. Gregg Abbott, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed and set to Texas voters a proposed amendment that would dedicate $2.5 billion in general sales tax revenues and some future motor vehicle sales taxes to highways. Organizations associated with the Transportation Advocates of Texas coalition are providing information and urging voters to support more predictable funding when they vote on November 3rd. [Read More]
The Texas Legislature took major steps this year to keep highway congestion levels and pavement conditions from deteriorating further. Steps included offering Proposition 7 for voter consideration, ending most Highway Fund diversions and increased general appropriations to compensate for part of the $700 million a year less that is available in previously approved bond proceeds. Sen. Robert Nichols and Rep. Joe Pickett played key rolls in the transportation-related accomplishments of the 2015 legislative session. In final legislative remarks, Sen. Don Huffines warned that there is still much more to do to meet the state's funding needs. [Read More]
The TxDOT staff has prepared a comprehensive review of transportation-related legislation enacted by the 84th Texas Legislature that finished its work in June. The report is an overview of important transportation bills and other legislation that affects TxDOT's daily operations.It notes that while funding was the lead issue, other legislation was passed dealing with contracting reform, transportation planning, debt management and traffic safety. [Read More]
Congress has approved another patch for federal highway funding and will take up a longer-term bill in the fall. Heritage Foundation researcher Michael Sargent says Texas is the only state in the union that has been receiving less in highway funding than it paid in and that prospects are that any bill that is likely to pass will make that situation worse. [Read More]
Editorial writers at the San Antonio Express-News have joined the wide range of interests sounding the alarm about the inability of the U.S. Congress to agree on future funding of highways and bridges. They remind us that with delay in infrastructure upgrades there are disasters waiting to happen. Read the editorial [Here].
The Texas Senate approved by a vote of 31-0 and the Texas House followed with a vote of 141-1. With that state lawmakers offered Texas voters the opportunity to approve additional constitutionally dedicated revenue necessary to fund highways and bridges. The proposed amendment would initially provide $2.5 billion a year to the State Highway Fund for non-toll projects. In subsequent years it would provide by formula an additional $250 million or more per year to dedicated funding -- all from existing sales tax revenue streams with no increase in tax rates or fees. The decision address transportation funding will be made by voters on November 3, 2015, and the new funding would start in September 2017 (FY 18). Last year voters gave 80% approval to a constitutional amendment dedicating a portion of oil and gas production tax revenues to highways. This post includes a Ben Wear commentary discussing the success lawmakers had addressing transportation issues in 2015. [Read More]
The SJR 5 Conference Committee has reached agreement on a proposed constitutional amendment that would let the voters decide whether to provide additional funding for Texas highways and bridges. The proposal would dedicate $2.5 billion a year in sales tax revenues to transportation plus a small portion of future vehicle sales tax revenues. The compromise deal, confirmed by Sen. Robert Nichols and Rep. Joe Pickett, would provide a lower amount per year than the original House version and a different formula for dedicating growth in vehicle sales tax revenues than proposed by the Senate. [Read More]
The Texas House of Representatives today voted 139 to 2 in favor of a resolution that would allow Texas voters to decide whether to constitutionally dedicate an estimated $3.6 billion a year in sales tax revenues to the State Highway Fund. The vote sends the amended version of SJR 5 back to the Texas Senate for further consideration. The Senate earlier passed its own highway funding amendment proposal by a vote of 28 to 2. Votes of two-thirds of the members of each house are required to present a constitutional amendment to the voters. The House added amendments to their substitute proposal that would limit the fund dedication if state revenues fall when compared to a previous biennium. Another approved amendment set the date of the constitutional amendment election for November 2016 instead of 2015. The constitutional dedication would expire in 2026 after a possible 9 years. The House also approved the amended version of the enabling legislation for the House approach.
Significant progress has been made on moving proposals for additional highway funding through the Texas Legislature. The House will soon take up the legislative session's most important piece of funding legislation -- HJR 13 (SJR 5) by Transportation Chairman Joe Pickett. With voter approval it would constitutionally dedicate an estimated $3.6 billion a year in sales tax revenues to the State Highway Fund. [Read More]
A national transportation research group called TRIP has identified the 100 highway improvements most needed to support economic growth and quality of life in Texas, ranked in order as determined by TRIP. These improvements include projects to build, expand or modernize highways or bridges throughout the state in order to accommodate projected job growth and population increases. Many projects are on portions of I-35 and in the Houston metro area. Seven of the 10 most needed projects outside major cities are on the route being developed as Interstate 69. [Read More]
Local leaders and community organizations from across the state are taking the position that Texas needs a new dedicated source of funding for transportation. More than 50 cities and groups have joined in a statement encouraging state legislators to explore and approve reliable constitutionally dedicated funding mechanisms that will keep the state from falling further behind on congestion, interregional connectivity, safety and deteriorating roadways. [Read More]
Texas has been relying for more than a decade on one-time funding jolts to keep transportation projects moving through the planning, approval and construction pipeline. Scott Haywood of Move Texas Forward points out that it is time for predictable, long-term sources of revenue that match the five to ten years it takes to get a project ready for construction. [Read Commentary]
In a recent editorial the Dallas Morning News finds a lot to like about the proposal by Sen. Robert Nichols and Sen. Jane Nelson to let voters decide whether to dedicate a significant portion of future vehicle sales tax revenues to the State Highway Fund. The plan passed out of the Senate on a 28-2 vote and was sent to the House for consideration. The Editorial Board finds it encouraging "to see the stars so aligned" on transportation funding. [Read Editorial]
A significant portion of future state vehicle sales tax revenues would be dedicated to building highways and paying off debt on past highway projects if a proposal by Sen. Robert Nichols is approved by lawmakers and then by Texas voters. The Senate has approved his legislation -- Senate Bill 5 and Senate Joint Resolution 5. If approved by the House, voters would be asked to pass a constitutional amendment to permanently reserve $2.5 billion a year in vehicle sales taxes for the General Fund. The next $2.5 billion would go into the State Highway Fund and then half of any additional amount would also go to non-toll roads and bridges and to paying off existing transportation related debt. The change would not go into effect until 2018. [Read More]
Texas has the highest overall rating and is the most cost-effective state highway system among the nation’s 20 most populous states. That is the bottom line of the Reason Foundation’s 21st Annual Highway Report rating the nation’s 50 state transportation departments and their highway systems. TxDOT Executive Director Joe Weber says that is just one example of the agency's stellar achievements in the past year. [Read More]
Much more needs to be done to fill the highway funding gap in Texas even after voters gave 80% support to the Prop 1 constitutional amendment. The Transportation Advocates of Texas offer a special thanks to Sen. Robert Nichols and Rep. Joe Pickett for their tireless work on behalf of the amendment and to all Texans for passing the ballot measure. TAoT and its member organizations will be asking state lawmakers in the upcoming session to approve additional new, long-term, sustainable funding sources to fill the remaining funding gap faced by the state as Texas tries to keep up with continuing growth and aging roads and bridges. [Read More]