Lawmakers Made It Possible to Fund $70 Billion

In Statewide Transportation Projects

 

August 26, 2016


The results of a sustained effort by Texas lawmakers to address a major transportation funding shortfall came into full view Thursday with the approval of a 10-year funding program that is twice as large as last year's 10-year plan.

 

The Texas Transportation Commission approved the 2017 Unified Transportation Program (UTP) with $70 billion worth of projects over the next 10 years.  That compares to the $33 billion in projects that were in last year's version of the 10-year plan.

 

The leadership of the Transportation Advocates of Texas praised members of the Texas Legislature for taking the initiative to develop additional transportation funding sources and for ending the practice of appropriating state highway funds to other agencies.

 

"Governor Gregg Abbott made transportation issues a major part of his campaign and since his election he has made transportation funding a priority.  That was essential to the effort that produced the historic investment represented by the UTP," said TAoT Chairman Dennis Kearns.

 

"Without the commitment and political courage shown by senators and house members over the past few years we would still be struggling with funding levels that could pay for little more than maintaining the state's large road system.  It is especially important to recognize the leadership provided by Senator Robert Nichols and Representative Joe Pickett who chair the transportation committees in the legislature.  Their determination and innovative initiatives in Proposition 1 and Proposition 7 give us this opportunity to improve serious congestion problems and to enhance the safety and free flow of traffic on highways connecting our communities," Kearns said..

 

Additional funding for projects in the UTP will come from voter-approved  measures that will allocate portions of the state oil and natural gas production taxes, general sales taxes and vehicle sales taxes to transportation.  The five-year federal transportation bill passed in 2015 will add about $600 million a year in new funding. Overall an additional $38.3 billion in funding is projected over fiscal years 2017 to 2026. That includes $10.2 billion from traditional State Highway Fund sources like federal funding and fuels taxes. Prop 1 is expected to provide an additional $6.3 billion and Prop 7 an additional $21.8 billion for transportation.

 


 

The 2017 UTP allocates the largest share of additional funding to addressing gridlock and congestion in the state's urban centers and on the connector highways leading in and out of those cities.   The 10-year plan, developed with extensive public input, targets congestion in the state’s most-populated areas and includes projects to better connect the major interstates in rural areas with local roads and highways. Also outside urban areas, the program calls for enhancing and completing interstate highways, and addressing the continuing needs within the energy sector and along hurricane evacuation routes.

 

"The actions today by the Texas Transportation Commission represent a historic investment in our state’s infrastructure,” Governor Abbott said of the UTP approval. “Texans have sent a loud and clear message that they are tired of sitting in traffic, and this funding plan will significantly address safety, maintenance, connectivity and congestion on our crowded highways. The plan presented by the commission will allow Texas roads to keep pace with our population growth, provide much-needed congestion relief for working Texans and put the Lone Star State well on its way towards having a first-in-class highway system for decades to come.”

 

“The Unified Transportation Program reflects TxDOT’s commitment to planning for and meeting the mobility needs of our fast-growing state,” said Transportation Commission Chairman Tryon Lewis.

 

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