TAG has around 50 members so far. Wayne Klotz helped start the group. He’s been a civil engineer in Houston for more than thirty years. He says with money for road and transit projects drying up, lawmakers need to come up with other solutions to the region’s transportation problems.
“We’ve got all these things floating around but no ability to pay for them, and if there is no way to pay for them they won’t get built. So as more and more people come the only thing that happens is congestion gets worse, air quality gets worse, and the quality of life declines. That’s just a given.”
Klotz says TAG is pro-roads and pro-transit, but will primarily be focusing on highway improvements during the current legislative session. The Texas Legislature is considering bills that would raise more money for transportation projects, including one that would increase the gas tax and another that would bump up the cost of vehicle registration. Klotz says the former has little chance of passing.
“Nobody believes that this legislature is going to go increase taxes, and so we need to find to new sources of revenue.”
Klotz says the advocacy group wants lawmakers to at least index the gas tax to adjust for inflation. He also backs raising the vehicle registration fee. And he says TAG would like to see the legislature pass a local-option transportation bill. That would give Houston voters the ability to approve a local tax that would pay for specific projects in the area, like resurfacing a road for example. It’s the same concept as Houston’s drainage fee proposition, which voters passed last year.
“What we’re asking the state to do is to allow the Houston region to address the transportation problems. If they can’t find ways to fund it then at least give us the opportunity to work with our elected officials here to handle our own issues.”
Klotz says TAG is getting ready to deliver its message to state lawmakers who represent the Houston region.
KUHF contributes to transportationnation.org, a public radio reporting project. “Transportation Nation combines the work of public radio newsrooms and their listeners as the way we build, rebuild, and get around the nation changes.”