TxDOT: No Money For New Roads After 2012
The state of Texas is running out of money to build new roads. Lawmakers have known for about a decade that the state’s current method of funding road projects was – more or less – a rapidly decreasing stream of water.
During a hearing Wednesday TxDOT’s John Barton told Senate Transportation Committee chair Dallas Republican John Carona that by 2012 – the state will have no more money for new roads – only enough to maintain the roads already built.
“And at that point we’d only be able to sustain maintenance of our existing systems – and at a declining level I might add. Well it’s not that y’all haven’t been telling us this. You’ve been telling us this for session after session. I just don’t think members have any idea – that’s right around the corner.”
The nearly 2-billion dollars the state received as part of the federal stimulus bill to build and maintain roads has already been attached to a number of so-called “shovel ready” projects. That doesn’t change the situation for Texas in 2012.
Carona and other lawmakers hope that deadline will help push a handful of road funding bills through the legislature. One would try to re-fund the agency by ending the current practice of diverting hundreds of millions of dollars from TxDOT’s road fund for other state budget needs.
Other bills would try to increase the state’s gas tax. Dan Kessler is with the Association of Texas Metropolitan Planning Organizations. He says the already strained gas tax will only become less effective as Texans buy more fuel efficient cars.
“A troubling finding in this analysis is that despite an additional 12.5 million new Texans on the road by 2030 – due to the likely doubling of fleet fuel efficiency in the same time period – the state of Texas will receive less revenue from state motor fuel tax receipts in 2030 then today given our current fuel taxes.”
The Senate is expected to hold a vote next week on a bill that would give counties the ability to increase local gas taxes – to pay for local road projects.