Just another issue we won’t be dealing with this session.
During the next 20 years, the Texas Department of Transportation will need $315 billion to spend on the state’s roads and freeways for maintenance and construction just to keep traffic from getting worse, according to a report commissioned by the Texas Transportation Commission.
The gasoline tax, federal dollars and other fees, which provide almost all of TxDOT’s road funding, are expected to generate only about $160 billion during that same time.
The Center for Transportation Research at the University of Texas predicts that the lack of money for road construction and repair will lead to a significant deterioration of Texas’ roads — by 2025, only 21 percent of Texas’ roads will be in good or better condition.
This issue, however, is not likely to get much attention during the current legislative session.
“There’s not going to be a lot focus on transportation because of the budget crisis, which has really no effect with TxDOT,” said Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, a former chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
I don’t know if that’s the same study from a few years ago that I criticized a few times for overstating the need – at the time, it was a pretty transparent ploy to generate leverage for Governor Perry’s various privatized toll road schemes – but it doesn’t really matter. No one will argue that there is a need for more transportation funds, even if we argue over how big the gap is. And the two obvious solutions – raising the gas tax and indexing it to inflation, and allowing for local options on taxation for transportation funding – aren’t going anywhere this session. We’ll just kick the can down the road a little more, and hope it doesn’t get lost in a pothole.