House Interim Charges Focus on Funding


The adequacy of current highway funding mechanisms and sources is at the top of the list of interim charges to be taken up by the Texas House Transportation Committee before the Texas Legislature meets again in January 2021.


The committee is directed to study the current mix of user fee-based funding for the state higway system including registration fees, fuel taxes and tolls, and to determine of these sources generate enough funds to meet the demand for added highway capacity and replacement of aging roads and bridges.


The projected growth in Texas population and truck traffic over the coming decades will tend to expand the gap between available funding and demand for highway upgrades and expansion.


The House Transportation Committee is led by Chairman Terry Canales from the Rio Grande Valley and Vice-Chair Brooks Landgraf from the Permian Basin. Both are regions with expanding populations and growing truck traffic tied to important economic drivers.


The committee will examine whether current legislative appropriations, including projections for Proposition 1 (severance tax) and Proposition 7 (sales tax) funds, are keeping pace with Texas' highway funding needs to accommodate population and economic development growth. Members will make recommendations for additional methods of funding or innovative tools that the state could utilize to deliver road infrastructure projects.


Here are other charges for committee action:


+ Study the state's transportation and road safety efforts in support of the Texas Transportation Commission's goal of ending traffic deaths in the state by 2050. Identify the most dangerous roads and transportation corridors in the state and determine opportunities to reduce high rates of traffic accidents and fatalities in these areas. Make recommendations to improve policies, funding strategies, program development, and agency coordination to ensure continuous improvements to road safety.


+ Study the technology and safety aspects of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, including predictive capabilities and the potential for dedicated freeway and surface lanes for public transportation, autonomous vehicles, and semi-autonomous vehicles. Make recommendations for optimizing state policy to prepare for varying vehicle technologies to ensure safety and traffic reliability on Texas roadways.


+ Study the state's seaport infrastructure and the infrastructure at land ports of entry to facilitate international trade and economic growth. Examine seaport infrastructure and the auxiliary rail and roadway needs connected to each port as well as the port's ability to keep pace with oil and gas production. Make recommendations to maximize the economic flow of goods and products to and from seaports and study the feasibility and economic impact of dredging and widening Texas ports in order to remain competitive in international trade.


+ Examine the infrastructure at international border ports of entry in Texas and identify transportation-related impediments to international trade that negatively impact the state.
Make recommendations to reduce border wait times, facilitate economic growth, and expedite trade. (Joint charge with the House Committee on International Relations & Economic Development)