Nichols Traces Highway Funding History and
Talks About the Challenges Ahead


Senator Robert Nichols reminds us that a 1952 Texas Highway map included NO interstate highways and no Farm-to-Market roads. Then in the 25 years from 1950 to 1975 Texas built an average of 2,000 miles of new highway every year. Today that number is less than 100 miles a year.


Nichols, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and a former member of the Texas Transportation Commission, provided a fascinating review during the 2020 Texas Transportation Forum of how Texas got to it current place in highway funding and addressing traffic demands in a fast growing state.


A video of his remarks is available HERE -

His remarks start at Time Code 11.30 in the video. He is introduced at Time Code 9:50 by James Bass, TxDOT executive director.


Among his many topics is the Passage of Proposition 1 in 2014 and Proposition 7 in 2015, both winning approval by more the 80% of Texas voters. He praised the work of transportation advocates, including members of Transportation Advocates of Texas, for their hard work in helping get these ballot initiatives before the public.


He focuses in on the work of the 2030 Committee which issued reports in 2009 and 2011. The committee concluded that Texas needed at least $5 billion a year in new funding sources to keep congestion from getting worse and to keep up with system preservation.


Sen. Nichols proposed that it is time for a 2050 Committee that would look to the future and estimate funding needs based on the availability of various highway project financing tools.


He also calls for action on how best to design systems so that alternate fuel vehicles pay their fair share of the cost of building and maintaining roads.