Audio articles on Wilson County News made possible by C Street Gift Shop in downtown Floresville
To say that Texas continues to boom is an understatement. Between 2010 and 2020, Texas added nearly 4 million people—roughly the entire population of Oklahoma. Even during the pandemic, people still kept coming to our state, and there are no signs of slowing down. Our current population of 29 million is projected to grow to 47 million by 2050, a 62% increase.
This rapid growth brings people, businesses, jobs, and economic prosperity to our state, but with these opportunities it also brings challenges. More people and businesses mean more goods and services, and thus more demand on the transportation infrastructure that connects us all to each other. But I’m proud to say that these are challenges TxDOT and the Texas Transportation Commission have been meeting head on with great persistence.
After Governor Greg Abbott was inaugurated in 2015, he made improving transportation throughout Texas a major priority. At our most recent meeting, the Texas Transportation Commission approved an unprecedented level of projected funding for the development and construction of more than 7,000 transportation projects, amounting to a $117 billion investment in transportation statewide, including the approval of the $85 billion, 10-year construction plan with the adoption of the 2023 Unified Transportation Program (UTP). These projects are dedicated to improving safety, addressing congestion and connectivity, and preserving roadways for Texas drivers.
This planned investment will have a tremendous and positive impact on the economy of Texas. According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the $8.5 billion of average annual investment programmed in the UTP over the next 10 years is expected to yield an estimated $15.5 billion per year in economic benefits, amounting to $155 billion over the next ten years. These benefits are a result of increased labor income and business output, and the addition of 58,500 direct and indirect jobs.
Governor Abbott directed me as Chairman of TxDOT to “turn dirt” and Texans have shown that they overwhelmingly support “turning dirt” for new and better highways, roads, and bridges. Texas voters passed legislation aimed at increasing road funding (Proposition 1 by 80% in 2014 and Proposition 7 by 83% in 2015) that now pays for about 40% of Texas’ total transportation work. The people of Texas voted, we listened, and we have been building the transportation system throughout Texas!
Because 67% of Texans live in five major metro areas—Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio—in 2015, TxDOT focused on the Top 100 most congested roads in these Texas cities as part of our new Texas Clear Lanes program. Since 2015, this congestion relief program now has $61.3 billion of non-tolled projects that are completed, under construction or planned. And rural Texas—home to 10% of our population, but 47% of the Texas land mass—has not been neglected. Rural transportation funding has increased from $2.2 billion in 2014 to $14 billion today, a historic increase of more than 500%.
The more than 12,500 women and men of TxDOT work tirelessly to build and maintain our more than 197,000 lane miles and more than 54,000 bridges in Texas, the most miles and bridges of any state in the U.S.
My mantra, since becoming Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission in September 2017, is “execute, execute, execute” and Texans can know that Governor Abbott and Texas transportation leaders have kept their eye on the ball. While global pandemic and supply chain issues created uncertainty worldwide, our transportation system has been and continues to be something we can all count on – today and in the future for our great state of Texas!
J. Bruce Bugg, Jr., Chairman, Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees the activities of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)
NOTE: Items posted to the WCN Blog Pages are the opinions of the writer, and do not necessarily the opinion of the Wilson County News, its management, or staff.