$250 million proposed for highways
Oct 24, 2013 | 238 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUSTIN – An additional $250 million may be available for Texas highways impacted by energy sector traffic, Sen. Judith Zaffirini announced Oct. 15.

It would fund 70 maintenance and repair projects statewide, including 25 in nine Senate District (SD) 21 counties – Atascosa, Duval, Guadalupe, Karnes, La Salle, Live Oak, McMullen, Wilson and Webb.

At the recent hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Transportation Funding, Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, chair, directed the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to request the funding for 70 projects that had not been funded in the appropriations bill. On Oct. 9, the agency made the request to the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), which must approve it.

The repairs are necessary because of the extremely high volume of oil and gas industry truck traffic in Senate District 21, which includes the majority of rigs, the majority of production and the top-producing counties in the Eagle Ford Shale.

Despite the fact that oil and gas development in the Eagle Ford Shale contributed more than $1.24 billion in state revenue in 2012 alone, TxDOT has proposed converting some paved state highways in the shale region to unpaved roads.

“Many of us were concerned that TxDOT would convert more paved roads to unpaved roads immediately,” Zaffirini said. “At our transportation funding hearing, however, Phil Wilson, director, said the agency would collaborate with local officials and legislators before proceeding.

“Extending the moratorium will give communities more time to seek alternatives, including negotiating stakeholder donation agreements and securing grant funding via county energy transportation reinvestment zones.”

The $250 million is in addition to $225 million for 39 energy sector-impacted state highway projects that the Texas Legislature approved during the 83rd Texas Legislative Session. House Bill 1025 included more than $128 million for 19 state highway projects in six SD 21 counties, Atascosa, Bee, Karnes, La Salle, Live Oak and McMullen. The bill also included $225 million for Texas county roads impacted by energy development.
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