With the inclusion of voter approved Proposition 1 and Proposition 7 funding, the 10-year Unified Transportation Program is anticipated to increase over $38 billion --- from $28 billion to over $66 billion --- or an average of $6.6 billion per year. Through this increase, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is proposing to spend an additional $6.9 billion over the 10 years to preserve the state’s transportation assets through safety, maintenance, bridge, energy sector, and district discretionary programs. TxDOT is also looking to invest an additional $16.2 billion on congestion and urban mobility, $6.2 billion on regional connectivity corridors, and $9.0 billion on strategic priorities.
Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 lettings are projected to total approximately $7.6 billion; and it is estimated that in FY 2017, lettings will total over $8.7 billion. These figures include statewide and local lettings, other obligations, and CDA and design-build projects.
To ensure the effective execution of the projects associated with this funding, TxDOT is working to improve and streamline a number of core processes. First, the department is working to improve right of way (ROW) clearance. In May, only 4 percent of the projects let had unclear ROW parcels. The department is expected to double its ROW budget in the next biennium to approximately $800 million. It is TxDOT’s goal to complete appraisals prior to environmental clearance and have ROW purchased 2 years in advance of letting to allow adequate time for utility clearance on major projects. Utility clearance is expected prior to letting unless a management plan, approved by administration, is in place.
TxDOT has been working with its planning and regulatory partners to ensure a more streamlined approach to environmental clearance. Much of environmental clearance has been delegated to TxDOT’s 25 districts. At the present time, the Houston/Galveston, Dallas/Fort Worth, and El Paso regions are designated nonattainment for air quality. With issuance of the new federal air quality standards, the San Antonio region is being considered for nonattainment, as well.
The department is implementing a corridor improvement program to address safety, maintenance, and capacity needs along energy sector corridors during this period of slower energy exploration and production. The corridor improvement program will strengthen pavement structures, add shoulders to protect pavement edges, add turn lanes at key intersections, and construct passing or “Super-2” lanes along these key corridors.
Through the implementation of HB 20 and the adoption of new goals for the agency, TxDOT is developing a comprehensive performance planning process that will include key departmental and system performance measures; as well as project recommendation criteria. Letting schedule rate, project readiness, and the percent of on-time and on-budget construction projects are being reviewed for inclusion as measures of performance.
TxDOT is dedicated to ensuring its mission of delivering a safe, reliable, and integrated transportation system through collaboration and leadership is effectively executed through the delivery of the right projects in a timely manner.