New Coalition Advocating Transportation Solutions

 

November 21, 2017

 

A new coalition called Texans for Traffic Relief has been formed to help advocate for solutions that mitigate the growing transportation challenge facing Texas.   

 

“In light of the recent Unified Transportation Program discussions at TxDOT, it’s important to have a dialogue about how we are going to fund transportation infrastructure moving forward,” Texans for Traffic Relief spokesman David White said. “There are not enough voices around the table, and our purpose as an organization will be to find out what Texans want and give them a voice.”

 

Texas is the top destination to live, work, and raise a family. Our economy and population are booming—and so is our traffic. While the Texas Legislature has made historic investments to improve transportation over the last several years, there simply are not enough state resources to keep up with our growing population and increasing traffic.

 

"We look forward to partnering with Texans for Traffic Relief to engage more and more people to look for funding solutions to I-35,” said Ellen Wood, CEO of vcfo and 2017 Chair of the Board, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

 

Texans for Traffic Relief is dedicated to raising awareness about the funding challenges facing Texas’ strained transportation system and advocating for common sense solutions that will address congestion, improve infrastructure, and protect the interests of taxpayers.

 

“Texans have reached a breaking point with traffic,” White said. “We must allow for innovative transportation solutions that help manage traffic congestion if Texas is to remain an economic powerhouse and continue to lead the country in job growth. It’s time to get Texas moving.”

 

White told the Dallas Morning News (DMN) that Texans for Traffic Relief would engage commuters in North Texas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. It will inform them about the major shortfall in funding Texas roads.

 

"The Legislature has made historic investments in transportation, but with our exploding population growth it is not enough," White said. "Raising taxes is off the table, so if we aren't going to take advantage of innovative opportunities to fund our roads, then I guess we can just ask Santa Claus to pick up the tab."

 

In 2009 and again in 2011 the blue-ribbon Texas 2030 Committee concluded that Texas needed more than $5 billion in additional state funding just to maintain current congestion levels.  That number assumed that all available alternative project development tools would be available including managed lanes, tollways, public-private partnerships and various local cost sharing arrangements.

 

Victor Vandergriff, a member of the five-member Texas Transportation Commission, told the DMN that there was an asterisk associated with the $5 billion a year number, because the 2030 Committee assumed the use of the full set of financing tools would continue.

 

Because of legislative action, Vandergriff said. "We don't have those anymore, so it has an impact."
In 2014 and 2015 voters approved state constitutional amendments that will shift existing tax money from oil and gas production taxes and from sales taxes to the State Highway Fund. Lawmakers also ended about $700 million a year in Highway Fund diversion to the Department of Public Safety.  Once the funds all start flowing the net is expected to be approximately $4 billion a year in additional funding for highways.

 

"We're in a better position than we were but it remains to be seen how far we can go" in easing congestion, Vandergriff said. "Hard choices have to be made."

 

The Texas 2030 Commission concluded in 2011 that it would take something like $11 billion a year in additional funding by 2020 to continue with 2010 road maintenance and congestion conditions.  The state will be well short of that number with current funding sources.