At the April Commission meeting, the Texas Transportation Commission voted to allocate the approximately $2 billion in savings announced by TxDOT in February of this year: $1.6 billion to communities across the state using existing funding formulas and $400 million in projects selected by the Transportation Commission focusing on strategic partnerships and connectivity.
TxDOT reports that the “$2 billion in allocations are comprised of Texas Mobility Fund bond proceeds, anticipated federal funding, and savings on construction projects currently under way.” The money is expected to deliver over $4 billion worth of projects.
While this is of obvious benefit to the contractors, as well as the traveling public, $2 billion is quite a lot to underestimate in the first place. I mean, we had that for an entire annual letting not so long ago. This article is not about how fortunate we are that TxDOT located an additional $2 billion, although that is indeed true.
This article instead will focus on what is wrong with a system that cannot forecast within the nearest billion dollars.
The answer? Lack of federal planning.
TxDOT reports that the money was discovered from Texas mobility Fund bond proceeds, anticipated federal funding, and savings on construction projects. Savings from a low bid system and bond proceeds are one thing. But the central issue—underestimated federal funding—is a different situation entirely. This is a situation that damages our industry and will perpetuate as long as we subsist on these short-term extensions.
As I write this, it has been 950 days and 9 extensions since SAFETEA-LU expired. And Congress has yet to pass another multi-year bill. The news is predicting that we’ll have to wait until after the Presidential election before Congress will actually work together to pass a bill.
We have heard from both sides of theaisle that America must preserve and invest in its infrastructure or suffer the worst economic failures. So why is it that contractors are still laying off workers?
Short-term highway extensions tie the hands of state DOTs to forecast appropriately, which increases risk, destabilizes our workforces, and discourages investment in our companies.
We’ve all heard the rhetoric. Now we’re waiting on action. That’s why the inaugural call to action from our Legislative Action Center will be a letter to our Texas delegation advising them of the issues we face due to their inaction.
Nine hundred and fifty days of failure and counting. If your livelihood is contingent on highway funding this hurts you, and you need to let your congressmen know. Log onto the AGC of Texas Legislative Action Center at www.agctx.org/lac and write your letter today.