August 26, 2016 10:30 AM, EDT

Texas Transportation Commission Approves 2017 Unified Transportation Program

Texas’ Transportation Commission approved the state’s 2017 Unified Transportation Plan on Aug. 25. The $70 billion, 10-year plan is the largest in the agency’s history, more than twice the size of the $33 billion, 10-year plan released just last year. 

According to Texas’ Department of Transportation, most of the funding increase comes from legislative- and voter-approved initiatives to allocate portions of oil and gas taxes, sales taxes and other taxes to the state highway fund and eliminate diversion of those revenues.

“We’re a big state with a lot of needs,” said Texas Trucking Association CEO John Esparza. “Our freight and our population are continuing to grow. The Port of Houston had a record year and expects to grow even faster. There’s a lot of freight traffic to and from Mexico. They could use another border crossing.”

The plan targets congestion in the state’s most-populated areas and includes projects to better connect the major interstates in rural areas with local roads and highways, enhancing and completing interstate highways, and addressing the continuing needs within the energy sector and along hurricane evacuation routes, according to TxDOT.

"The actions today by the Texas Transportation Commission represent a historic investment in our state’s infrastructure,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “Texans have sent a loud and clear message that they are tired of sitting in traffic, and this funding plan will significantly address safety, maintenance, connectivity and congestion on our crowded highways. The plan presented by the commission will allow Texas roads to keep pace with our population growth, provide much-needed congestion relief for working Texans and put the Lone Star State well on its way towards having a first-in-class highway system for decades to come.”

Added Esparza, "The governor’s pleased and we’re pleased."