Texas Roads Crisis: DOT Proposes To Let Counties Maintain Roads
Gail Delaughter explains the two major reasons for what is being called the "turnback" proposal. She also broadcasts her story on an accompanying 2:32 audio tape.
- Budgetary: Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) had requested "about $4 billion for future transportation needs" during the legislative sessions. As we posted here on August 12, a measure did pass to allow voters to decide next year "whether or not to divert about $1.2 billion of oil and gas revenues from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the state's highway fund". Lacking sufficient revenue to maintain all of its 80,000 roads, the aim is to reduce the road burden by letting "local governments start footing the bill for things like resurfacing and pothole repair", Delaughter writes.
- Urban Focus: Delaughter reports that Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Moseley "says the money that now goes to local road maintenance could be better used for other projects, like increasing capacity on the state's congested freeways."
"We have 1,200 new Texans every day moving into our state. Many of these families are bringing two automobiles, and about 85% of those are coming into the urban areas of Texas, including Houston."
The five-member Texas Transportation Commission oversees statewide activities of TxDOT. It would seem that in addition to rural vs. urban, the choice the commission is considering is one of congestion mitigation over maintenance - a choice we questioned here last year.
Texas roads crisis Part 1 dealt with the proposal to convert 83 miles of farm-to-market, asphalt roads to gravel, partly in response to the significant toll that heavy trucks servicing the energy industry makes on these roads. No mention was made by Gail Delaughter of the road damage caused by these trucks, making it clear that that TxDOT's budgetary crisis goes beyond road damage caused by the state's booming energy industry.
These painful budgetary measures were forewarned by state Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) when he proposed adding 10-cents to the 20-cent state gas tax, wrote Tom Benning of the Dallas Morning News on February 18.
Until we have the political courage to really find the robust, long-sustaining revenue, we’re going to damage to our state’s infrastructure and to this industry,” he said.