Senate Committee to Monitor Implementation of
Project Selection Process Revisions in 2016


January 1, 2016


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has set a course for the Senate Transportation Committee's work in 2016 and it will focus on funding and monitoring TxDOT's implementation of legislation passed in 2015.


Interim charges from the leadership include seven general areas for the committee to focus on.  On the top of the list is monitoring any new and anticipated revenue appropriated to TxDOT and then making recommendations that address project prioritization and selection, effectiveness of staffing levels and project delivery methods.


HB 20 focuses on revising the planning and programming processes that planning organizations, TxDOT and the Transportation Commission currently use to prioritize and finance transportation infrastructure projects, and the requirement that TxDOT adopt a performance-based planning and programming process with performance metrics, measures and scoring for project selection, while requiring local transportation organizations to develop a 10-year plan for the use of funding allocated to the region.


HB 20 also establishes House and Senate committees on transportation to review, study and evaluate certain aspects of transportation funding, project selection and prioritization, performance measures and metrics, and policymaking.  TxDOT leaders have indicated they will be looking to the Legislature and state leaders to help guide development of this new process.


The Senate's interim charge also calls for the committee to monitor implementation of 2015 legislation including: (1) Progress on TxDOT’s efforts to propose a plan to eliminate toll roads; (2) Removing eminent domain authority from private toll entities; (3) Ending issuance of new debt from Mobility Fund; (4) Sunset Advisory Commission’s review of TxDOT.


Here are the rest of the interim charges:


Vehicle Inspection System: Evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the state's Vehicle Inspection Program. Make recommendations on how to compress or otherwise reduce the number of required inspections.


Regional Mobility Authorities: Review State Highway Fund grants and loans to Regional Mobility Authorities (RMA) and make recommendations if additional oversight procedures are needed to ensure the RMA’s expenditures are a valid and accountable use of State Highway Funds.


Panama Canal: Study the demand placed on the state’s ports, roadways and railways resulting from the Panama Canal expansion and make recommendations to ensure transportation infrastructure is adequate to accommodate increases in imports and exports.


Driver Responsibility Program: Evaluate the necessity of the Driver Responsibility Program and make recommendations for alternative methods of achieving the programs objectives.


Oversize/Overweight Vehicle Regulations, Penalties and Fines: Review current state and federal regulations, penalties and fines related to oversize and overweight vehicles and make recommendations to minimize impacts on the state's roadways and bridges.


The Senate Transportation Committee will meet at 9 a.m. January 27th at the Capitol to hear invited testimony on the state's Vehicle Inspection Program and the Drivers Responsibility Program.