The TxDOT board members reversed their previously announced plans and reacted to anti-toll pressure from Abbott and Patrick. In a 5-0 vote the board agreed to remove all new…
The board at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) disregarded pleas from local elected officials, transportation professionals and community leaders late last week and followed the wishes of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick with a vote that now has several critical transportation projects in dire jeopardy.
The TxDOT board members reversed their previously announced plans and reacted to anti-toll pressure from Abbott and Patrick. In a 5-0 vote the board agreed to remove all new tollway projects from a key 10-year construction plan.
Now, many critical projects that have been on hold for more than a decade will languish even longer. Patrick made sure that board members knew his feelings. He sent a letter on Thursday to board Chairman Bill Bugg that he also shared with the media.
“It is surprising and disappointing to learn that TxDOT created a plan to add managed toll lanes to virtually every major roadway currently under consideration,” Patrick wrote, noting that through Proposition 1 and Proposition 7, TxDOT now has an additional $4.3 billion a year to spend on roads. “TxDOT’s proposal to add managed toll lanes is simply not consistent with the policies set forth by the Legislature,” wrote Patrick.
Unfortunately, the funding that was allocated through Proposition 1 and Proposition 7 is totally inadequate for transportation infrastructure projects over the next decade.
The I-35 project in Central Texas alone, if started immediately, was estimated to cost approximately $8 billion. The years of delay that will now result will drive the cost up even more.
TxDOT leaders have repeatedly explained that the additional $4 billion annually is still $1 billion a year short of its estimate of how much new money it needs to keep Texas traffic at its current level.
Anti-toll road lawmakers, including State Rep. Joe Pickett, have aggressively worked to kill any chance of new tolled lanes. The problem, of course, is this – funding has to come from somewhere. If not toll roads, where do lawmakers think the money can be found?
It will be interesting to see whether legislators hate toll roads enough to jeopardize the state’s economic vitality by killing critically needed roadway projects.
This story originally published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc.