Like many of you, TXDOT will be spending this year improving today’s transportation modes, and preparing for tomorrow’s mobility needs. And if those who spend their time making predictions about that future are correct, we will have our work cut out for us.
The next time you are sitting in traffic, think about this daunting fact: the population in Texas is expected to double from 28.3 million today to 54 million in 2050, meaning that there will be millions more commuters joining you on your drives to and from work in the future.
And that may be especially true if you live in our largest metropolitan areas – Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio – areas that, according to the state demographer, are projected to see most of that growth. Areas that are already home to the most congested roadways in the state.
In September 2015, the Texas Transportation Commission, at the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott, created a statewide strategic plan to relieve congestion using existing and new funding that voters approved through Propositions 1 and 7, and the Legislature’s decision to end diversions from the state highway gas tax. It’s an effort we now call Texas Clear Lanes.
Just last month, Bruce Bugg, the chairman of our Transportation Commission, outlined the Commission’s intent to continue to use these dedicated funding sources for non-tolled roads in Texas. In fact, the chairman directed TxDOT senior staff to develop a plan for Commission consideration that will determine how to substantially apply more of the new funding to the state’s most 100 congested roads.
That’s important because as an agency, our mission is to provide safe and reliable transportation for Texas. That means moving people and goods safely and efficiently, which in turn fuels our economy and improves the quality of life for the people who live here. As we continue our job of developing, building and maintaining our massive highway system, we’re looking to our state leaders and the Texas Legislature to provide us with the funding and tools we need, our Commission to set policies for the work that we do, and our local partners and citizens to help us select projects that benefit the state.
We’ve used that funding, guidance and discussions to help us create the 2018 Unified Transportation Program. That planning document, which includes $70 billion in projects, also uses the new voter-approved funding streams, and will help us enhance safety on our system by targeting about two-thirds of the money to address congestion in populated areas and improve connectivity between corridors. About one-third of the money will help maintain roadways and bridges in good condition.
We plan to use all tools provided by the Legislature to deliver these projects. This includes letting over 1,000 design-bid-build projects per year that will exceed $5.5 billion and procuring up to three design-build projects annually that total $1.5 billion to $2.0 billion.
As you can see, we’ve been hard at work and we still have lots of work to do planning projects and keeping roads and bridges in the safest and best condition because that is the job that Texans expect us to do. And it’s a job that we’re only able to do with the help of our partners, including those in the AGC.