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Eagle Ford: TxDOT decision could be beginning of the end for farm-to-market roads
By Mike Barnett
Farm-to-market roads and ranch-to-market roads could become endangered in Texas if a plan snowballs to convert existing paved roadways to gravel in six Texas counties.
The problem is a limited amount of road repair funds and a sharp increase in heavy traffic from the oil and gas booms. The conversions will presently affect roads in four South Texas counties -- Live Oak, Dimmit, LaSalle, and Zavala -- and two West Texas counties -- Reeves and Culberson.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) maintains paving roads is too expensive and there are not enough highway funds to repave them all. “Our only other option to make them safer is to turn them into gravel roads,” a TxDOT spokesman said in a Texas Tribune article.
Texas Farm Bureau disagrees.
Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke said the 83rd Legislature passed much-needed legislation to provide voters an alternative to increased transportation funding via constitutional amendment next year. There is also $450 million allocated for counties to access money for oil- and gas-related traffic damages via Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zones.
Texas has one of the best networks of roads in the nation. The Farm-to-Market system was established in 1949 -- Texas Farm Bureau was instrumental in its passage -- and farmers and ranchers depend on this system of secondary and connecting roads to get their crops and livestock to market. They also depend on the roads to move services to and from rural towns.
Converting the farm-to-market roads in these six counties from paved to gravel sets an unsettling precedent and the rest could become easy pickings as the state continually scrambles for money.
Farm-to-market roads are vital to rural communities and agriculture. That’s why Texas Farm Bureau has asked Gov. Perry to advise the Texas Transportation Commission to cancel plans for road conversion.
Texas cannot afford to let its rural roads turn into mud and dust.
Mike Barnett is director of publications and serves as editor of Texas Agriculture and Texas Neighbors.
Your Opinions and Comments
August 28, 2013 4:36pm
The Marcelina Muse
Dry Tank, TX
August 28, 2013 12:35pm
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