TXDOT Looking at Bleak Future of New Projects

The Department of Transportation is looking at a bleak future of new projects.  Funding has gone down for TXDOT throughout the last several years and with the states budget meltdown it will only get worse.  TXDOT says it's about maintaining what roads we have, not building newer and better ones.

TXDOT is experiencing a budget crunch just as much as other agencies and there are many factors that play into that, the big one is gas taxes.  That's where the department receives a majority of there funds.  For example they get 38 cents a gallon for every gallon
you purchase when fueling your tank, but even as the price of gas rises, their budget doesn't.

"We don't get more.  18 cents of that gets sent off to Washington and 20 cents goes to Austin," said Adele Lewis with TXDOT.

People are using less gas as more fuel efficient cars roll out and drivers hit the roads less often, that puts the department in a tough situation.  There are many ideas being thrown out there as a way to fund the agency.

"One thing is lets just increase the gas tax, that's very unpopular," said Lewis.  "Some other ideas that are thrown around is let's have a vehicle miles traveled tax.  Every year you register your vehicle they would check the mileage and you would pay per miles traveled over the last

Even an increase in vehicle registration fees is another idea.  Texas ranks as one of the states with the lowest cost of registration rates, ranging from $40 dollars and up.  California on the other hand charges upwards of $200 dollars to $500.  The state would not go as high as California but the option of an increase in on the table.  It's up to the legislature to decide how to fix it.  What does all this mean for Texoma roads?

"82 and 277 those are two projects in Wichita Falls we would have loved to improve to four lane divides.  Until some money starts rolling in they won't even be considered," she said.

It's about maintenance for the department, taking care of what they have.

"We're sitting pretty for right now this year, but our future transportation connectivity and expansion could be in jeopardy."

Adele says that our region has been faring well over the last several years, Kell Freeway and Falls Flyover are examples of projects TXDOT fought aggressively to fund.