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A 10-year Texas Department of Transportation plan to spend a record $85 billion to alleviate roadway congestion, enhance transportation safety and improve highways received the governor’s stamp of approval Aug. 30.
“The state of Texas is working to ensure the transportation needs of our fast-growing state are met and that the safety of Texans on the roadways is protected,” Gov. Greg Abbott declared, calling the plan “a critical step toward addressing the diverse needs of Texans in rural, urban and metropolitan communities.”
He announced the unanimous adoption of TxDOT’s 2023 Unified Transportation Program, a 188-page construction planning and development document that guides work among 562 listed transportation projects throughout Texas.
UTP authorizes the 10-year distribution of construction funding across 12 work categories, which include projects for highways, international trade, maritime, aviation and public transportation. While TxDOT notes that the document is only a guide rather than a guarantee of funding, it deems UTP a critical tool in guiding transportation project development (including preliminary engineering work, environmental analysis, right-of-way acquisition and design) for long-term planning as well as stakeholder communications.
“This 10-year plan to address transportation needs statewide and dedicate $85 billion to improve roadways will be a huge boon to our state’s infrastructure and booming economy,” Abbott said. “As more people move to Texas and businesses grow across the state, we are working together to make sure Texans’ transportation safety and mobility are secured and businesses can flourish for generations to come.”
Following UTP’s approval, TxDOT will be able to prioritize projects to develop or start construction along with associated funding.
“Texas’ rapid growth reinforces the importance of investing in transportation to efficiently move both people and freight across our diverse state,” said Marc Williams, TxDOT executive director. “TxDOT is working hard to not only build the new roads and transportation capacity Texas needs, but to maintain the more than 80,000 miles of roads and other transportation infrastructure under our care.”
This unprecedented level of projected #transportation funding is dedicated to improving transportation safety, addressing congestion & rural connectivity, & preserving roadways for Texas drivers. @TxDOT— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) September 2, 2022
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Although Texas is currently developing its latest freight plan (called Texas Delivers 2050), TxDOT has committed $30 million in the 2023 UTP to expand and repurpose safety rest areas with additional space for truck parking due to challenges freight carriers in Texas face over a lack of available parking spaces statewide.
Other funding called for in the document is $16.6 billion in preventative maintenance/rehabilitation of the existing state highway system, which includes pavement, sign and signal repairs.
Along with targeting $4.1 billion for bridge repairs (with at least 15% for off-system bridges) and $3.7 billion for safety projects, TxDOT’s proposed projects include
- $10.7 billion for metro and urban corridor projects to mitigate state highway traffic congestion that commonly consist of road widening and interchange improvements
- $12.2 billion toward statewide connectivity corridor improvements for high-traffic route mobility, two-lane roads needing expansion to four-lane divided lanes and strategic statewide routes as the Ports-to-Plains freight corridor
Texas aims to boost its statewide transportation connectivity at key locations such as ports of entry, border crossings, agriculture and forestry sites, and energy production. A key effort is the Texas Trunk System to develop rural mobility, provide access to ports of entry and construct four-lane divided roads. Another focus area is investing in rural highways (U.S. 59, 87, 83, 175 and 281) to provide alternative travel routes to congested urban interstates.
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“UTP reflects a continued focus on improving transportation safety as the top priority, maintaining our current system, addressing traffic congestion, and improving statewide connectivity over the next decade,” said J. Bruce Bugg Jr., TxDOT commission chair. “Additionally, we are making significant progress in addressing congestion in our busiest parts of the state through our Texas Clear Lanes initiative, which improves top chokepoints in our largest metro areas.”
In late June, a $24.6 million project to build a diverging diamond interchange at I-35 in North Austin was completed to alleviate congestion. On hand for the ribbon cutting, Bugg noted, “Since 2015, we’ve completed a dozen Texas Clear Lanes projects across the state. The I-35 at Parmer Lane project will help get Austin drivers out of congestion and back to the things they want and need to do.”