The Texas Transportation Commission got an update and harsh words from lawmakers regarding the 83 miles of roadway in South Texas that they are considering converting into gravel.
Texas Department of Transportation Chief Engineer John Barton told the commission that the roads in South Texas where hydraulic fracking is taking place are breaking down faster than anything they’ve ever seen.
Roads are being worn down with the high volume of heavy-load trucks passing in and out of the Eagle Ford Shale area, causing TxDOT to balance the need for frequent repairs with cost saving measures in their budget.
A paved road costs the agency about $500,000 per mile to maintain, but gravel roads cost about $10,000, so TxDOT wants to convert 83 miles of roadway into gravel, a decision that is being met with opposition from county officials.
The final transportation bill will provide the Texas Department of Transportation with $1.2 billion per year in road funding from the Rainy Day Fund.
The speaker of the House and the lieutenant governor will appoint a ten-person committee each legislative session -- five members each of the House and Senate -- which will determine a sufficient balance in the Rainy Day Fund before money can be transferred into the State Highway Fund.
The Rainy Day Fund minimum will then have to be approved by the full House and Senate on a simple majority vote.
Pro-business groups are hoping to persuade House lawmakers to approve a transportation bill that has now been up for debate four times.
The transportation bill working its way through the House this special session involves using money from the Rainy Day Fund and has seen a little bit of controversy in the 83rd Legislature, but was still projected to pass during the first special session.
It failed because of the filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, which effectively ran the clock out on the session.
A transportation panel of seven state representatives heard from the head of the Texas Department of Transportation about the transportation bill that passed the Senate and how it will benefit the State Highway Fund beyond the next two years.
"If we don’t increase our resources now, our production in dollar terms will fall to levels not seen since the early 2000s," said TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson. "Meanwhile, more and more people move to Texas [and] congestion worsens."
Just after the start of the third special session of the 83rd Texas Legislature, Speaker of the House Rep. Joe Straus of San Antonio excused over 35 members because of pressing business in their individual districts.
A transportation bill that passed the Senate this week will require 100 votes in the House in order to pass, but the missing members will likely keep the bill from getting enough votes to pass.
A struggling transportation bill during a third special session is losing more and more support, including that of Joe Straus, Texas’ Speaker of the House.
Less than a day into the summer’s third special session, the Texas Senate gave its approval to a transportation bill that failed to pass during a regular session and two consecutive special sessions. But that bill faces an uphill climb in the Texas House, including how the bill is viewed by Straus.
VIA has officially unveiled a proposed streetcar route that would run east-west along the Market and Commerce Street corridors downtown.
The route, which also includes a Cesar Chavez option, was popular with many people. VIA’s Chief Engagement Officer, and former congressman, Charlie Gonzalez, said the plans knocked off the table now are routes VIA couldn’t ignore: one that passed the Alamo and another at Hemisfair Park.