TAoT Chairman Jim Reed

 

Transportaton Commissioner Jeff Austin

 

 

 

 

Highway Funding: "The Climate Has Changed"

 

February 20, 2013

 

The climate surrounding transportation funding has changed dramatically for the better in this year’s session of the Texas Legislature.

 

That was the assessment of Jim Reed, Transportation Advocates of Texas board chairman, as he welcomed more than 200 people who attended a TAoT reception kicking off the annual Texas Transportation Forum in Austin.


“The issue is no longer whether we need to do something – it is how do we do it – and that is a giant step from where we were two years ago,” Reed said. 

 

He praised members of the Texas Transportation Commission and the staff leadership at the Department of Transportation for how they have successfully “reinvented” TxDOT during the past two years.

 

TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson told the gathering it had been a whirlwind year since the last TAoT forum reception a year ago.  He also said it is clear that the conversation has changed in the current legislative session to one about “ how and how much – and that is a good place to be.”

 

“It is a real testament to the men and women in this room who for the past several years, but in particular this year, have honed in each and every day to say that transportation is a mission critical need for our state.”


He praised the gathered transportation professionals for successfully leading the conversation about transportation to the current point and urged them to continue because “it really is the life blood and driving force of this economy.”

 

Wilson stressed that Texas faces its own fiscal cliff.  “When we get to 2016 we get to numbers we have not seen since 2002," he said, referring to funding levels.  "That’s not anybody crying wolf.  That is just math.  Math is math.  And what happens in this state because of that is a very strong concern to every single one of you.  It will determine what Texas will look like for the rest of this century.”

 

“Transportation is our product but the end result is economic growth and the vitality for our state,” Wilson concluded.

 

Transportation Commission Member Jeff Austin  welcomed guests and thanked them for being transportation advocates.

 

Phil Wilson, TxDOT Executive Director