Image of Traffic on I-45, Courtesy of Houston Chronicle.
TxDOT released a plan which would allocate $1.3 billion towards reducing traffic congestion in critical areas. The funds will be dispersed across 14 roadway projects aimed at alleviating gridlock in Texas’ five largest cities, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth. Particular emphasis was placed on the interchange between Loop 610 and U.S. 59, which will be rebuilt entirely. Parts of Interstate 10 which frequently experience heavy traffic between Houston and San Antonio were also prioritized, and will be widened from four lanes to six. In total, all planned projects will add approximately 42 miles to existing highways.
The funds will not be raised through a tax increase. Rather, TxDOT will collect the funds by re-diverting existing revenue, previously sent to other agencies, back to TxDOT. An example of this would be ending the diversion of gas tax revenues to law enforcement, which alone would generate around $1 billion. An additional $300 million is expected to come through commission-distributed funds.
“The major metro areas of Texas – Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio – represent more than two-thirds of the state’s population and 97% of the state’s most congested roads,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner J. Bruce Bugg, Jr., who was appointed by the commission to lead this statewide effort. “These areas see some of the worst congestion in the nation. We’ve just completed a listening tour in these major areas and have gathered valuable local input from transportation leaders regarding their priorities and where we can quickly address some needs. This is the initial phase of a new statewide plan to address congestion.”
“For years we’ve been committed to addressing congestion, and this year we’re getting a jump start on that part of our core mission,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “As the severity of congestion in the Lone Star State continues to grow, we are committed to delivering projects many Texas need and deserve to reduce the amount of time they spend in traffic.”
According to the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2015 Mobility Scorecard, traffic costs the average driver 52 hours and $1,200 per year. The Texas Transportation Commission is expected to consider an addition $800 million to meet maintenance related needs.