Creating Tomorrow Today

Written by  Bill Hale, P.E.

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At TXDOT, we're constantly moving to get projects delivered effectively and efficiently. Today, we have more than $20 billion worth of construction and maintenance projects underway across the state. During this past fiscal year alone, we let approximately $9 billion in contracts – taking precious taxpayer dollars and getting them awarded.

But how do we decide which projects to invest in? That’s where Metropolitan Planning Organizations play a vital role. These partnerships help us understand the priority projects of communities that MPOs serve.

Overall, there are 23 MPOs in Texas. MPOs are created under federal law and play a key role in making local recommendations to the Texas Transportation Commission. An MPO is required for each urban area with a population of more than 50,000 people and is responsible for overseeing the metropolitan transportation planning process.

One of the most significant ways TxDOT partners with MPOs is during the development and approval process of TxDOT’s 10-year plan, the Unified Transportation Program. In August, the Texas Transportation Commission adopted the 2020 UTP, a historic $77 billion in improvements and investments around the state. Thanks to our partnership with our MPOs, TxDOT identified and authorized 98 new projects worth approximately $1.8 billion for metropolitan and urban area corridors.

The alignment of TxDOT and MPOs continues to produce positive results. Our partnership with the North Central Texas Council of Governments has helped move the I-635 LBJ East project in Dallas over the goal line and moved the needle on several other priority projects such as the I-820 Southeast Connector project in Fort Worth. Thanks to our partners at the Corpus Christi MPO, we’re delivering on the SH 286 extension, and the Waco MPO has been instrumental in prioritizing the SL 363 widening project in the Waco area.

This past legislative session, state leaders approved the newly formed Rio Grande Valley MPO, merging the Brownsville MPO, Harlingen-San Benito MPO and Hidalgo County MPO into one. This merger will help TxDOT deliver important projects to the region such as upgrades to I-69 in Hidalgo County. From El Paso to Longview and Amarillo to Harlingen, our partnerships with MPOs help us get Texans where they need to go.

Another way TxDOT works with our local partners is through Regional Mobility Authorities. An RMA is a political subdivision formed by one or more counties or certain cities which come together to finance, acquire, design, construct, operate, maintain, expand or extend transportation projects. The Transportation Commission approves the creation of RMA, and today there are nine across the state.

RMAs provide local governments more control in transportation planning and help meet regional challenges when funding needed mobility improvements. These organizations work closely with TxDOT district offices and MPOs to prioritize mobility alternatives for federal and state funding programs and in project development. RMAs have played an important role in projects such as improvements to Loop 1604 South in San Antonio, upgrades to U.S. 59/I-69 in Laredo and plans to improve U.S. 183 North in Austin.

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