Emmett Sees Future Growth Focused East of I-35

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett thinks long-term development in Texas is going to be in East Texas because that part of the state has available water to support industry and population growth.  Dry conditions to the west are just a fact of life.


Speaking at the Alliance for I-69 Texas annual luncheon in December he said he believes that Interstate 69 stretching across Texas is critically important to the future of Texas.

"I am a big believer in I-69 for a lot of reasons," he said. "It really is the most important economic engine that we have going in the state of Texas."

Judge Emmett, who is chairman of the Texas Freight Advisory Committee, has spent his career dealing with transportation policy issues and is a highly regarded transportation expert.

He said decisions to build projects that continue to upgrade existing highways to I-69 are going to be critical to the continued viability of the entire state because growth is going to be taking place along the I-69 corridor running from the Rio Grande to Houston and on through East Texas.

"New facilities are going to come in.  Where are they going to locate?  They are going to locate where they can get water, they are going to locate in East Texas," Judge Emmett said.



Texas Has Added Three "Austins" Since 2010;
Population and Miles Traveled Keep Growing


December 26, 2016


Texas is adding population -- and new traffic -- at a rate of one new Waco or one new Denton every four months.


Census data say Texas added about 432,957 people in the 12 months through June 2016.  That accounts for 19% of the entire nation's population growth in that period.  And it works out to a sustained average of 1,186 additional people in Texas every day, bringing the state's population as of June to an estimated 27,862,000.  That's up 10.8% in just six years since the 2010 Census.

State growth of 2.7 million people from 2010 to 2016 is like adding three cities the size of Austin -- one every two years. During that period Texas added more residents than any other state -- 700,000 more than California, 900,000 more than Florida, 2.1 million more than Georgia. West Virginia, Illinois, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island either lost population or gained less than 5,000 in those six years.

Texas growth is attributed to relatively strong flow of immigrants and people relocating from other states for job opportunities, the friendly business and tax climate, relatively low-cost housing, favorable weather, a special Texan lifestyle -- and mature transportation systems.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles registered 24 million vehicles last year.  That comes to one vehicle for every 1.2 Texans of every age.  It also works out to 1.2 registered vehicles for every one of the 20.4 million Texans of driving age.

More people.  More vehicles. More miles traveled. 
Newly published Federal DOT figures estimate there were 21.9 billion vehicle miles traveled in Texas during September, a growth of 2.4% from September 2015.  Nationally total vehicle miles traveled on all roads peaked in 2007 then held steady until taking off again in 2014.

The overall U.S. population this year grew at its lowest rate since the Great Depression, according to Census data.  An uptick in deaths, a slowdown in births and a slight drop in immigration all slowed overall American population growth for the year ended July 1. The 0.7% annual increase, to 323.1 million nationally, was the smallest on record since 1936-37.

The figures show Americans continue to leave states in the North. New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois all shrunk. About 593,000 people left the Northeast and Midwest to move to the South and West this year, slightly more than during the prior one-year period.

Demographers say the statistics suggest that factors that kept Americans from moving for years after the recession are dissipating, and that immigrants who started out in one region are moving on.


51 Million Texans in Year 2070
Texas' population has increased more than any other state's since 2000 and Texas will continue to be one of the fastest growing states.

The new 2017 State Water Plan projects that the Texas population will increase more than 70% between 2020 and 2070, from 29.5 million to 51 million.  The population was only 8 million in 1950 when Texas was primarily a rural state.

The State Demographer and others made new long-term population projections as part of the Water Plan.  The plan concludes that population growth is now -- and will continue to be -- concentrated in the eastern portion of the state, near the I-35 corridor and along the Rio Grande. 

The Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metropolitan areas are projected to account for more than half of total statewide population growth over the coming decades.  At the same time the area along the Rio Grande from Brownsville to Eagle Pass currently has the highest regional growth rate in the state and is expected to more than double its population over the 50-year planning period.