Editorial: Clear Direction For Clearing Lanes, Addressing Congestion

block-quote-verticle-purple-bar-7x100Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio are home to 97 of Texas’ Top 100 most congested roadways and more than 65 percent of the state’s population

By J. Bruce Bugg, Jr.
Texas Transportation Commissioner

With more than  27 million people living in Texas, it’s no surprise Gov. Greg Abbott last year directed the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees the Texas Department of Transportation, to develop a comprehensive statewide congestion-relief strategy to improve mobility across our rapidly growing state.

This program is now known as Texas Clear Lanes and was welcome news to concerned stakeholders I met with earlier this year while conducting listening tours on the topic of gridlock.

Thanks to the mandate of Texas voters, who approved Proposition 1 in 2014 and Proposition 7 in 2015, Gov. Abbott and the Texas Legislature increased highway funding in 2015.

This Texas Clear Lanes funding energized TxDOT and metropolitan planning organizations to develop and deliver mobility projects in the state’s five major metropolitan areas with populations of more than 1 million. To see how dollars are being spent to address congestion, visit TexasClearLanes.com.

Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio are home to 97 of Texas’ Top 100 most congested roadways and more than 65 percent of the state’s population. Last year, the average Texas driver in each of these metropolitan areas lost about 52 hours due to traffic congestion.

So what’s being done to loosen the grip on some of the state’s worst chokepoints?

Here in Austin, $337 million has been allocated to reduce congestion, increase capacity and improve mobility at chokepoints along I-35 where the interstate meets with Oltorf, 51st Street, and the stretch of Rundberg Lane to US 290.

As you’ve probably noticed, some of this work already is underway with completion dates ranging between summer 2018 and summer 2020. For a city that’s home to 14 of the state’s Top 100 congested roadways, these projects are welcome news.

While we continue to make strides toward addressing congestion in Texas, we also will continue to be challenged by an influx of people who are increasingly reliant on personal vehicles to get from Point A to Point B.

According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, 93 percent of Texans use a personal vehicle as their primary means of transportation, up from 91 percent in 2014.

Additionally, personal vehicle travel grew 29 percent, from an annual average of 13,351 miles two years ago to 17,321 miles in 2016.

Keep in mind that mobility not only benefits individual drivers but also the Texas economy as goods and services move safely and freely across our state.

As our state’s population grows, the 12,000 men and women of TxDOT will continue to collaborate with state and local leaders to find feasible solutions for funding and other resources to keep people and freight moving safely and efficiently.

TxDOT is committed to serving all Texans, and as our state’s metro areas connect to rural communities, we will anticipate and address the transportation demands of those growing populations.

And with Texas Clear Lanes as a guiding directive, statewide leadership will continue to prioritize and accelerate those transportation projects that will help Texans spend less time in their cars and more time doing what’s most important to them. 


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