The funding follows a directive from Governor Greg Abbott to reduce traffic congestion as a way to help with business growth and job creation.
“Last fall, Governor Abbott challenged the commission to create an initiative to identify and address the state’s most congestive choke points,” said James Koch, with the Texas Transportation Commission. “Five metro areas were identified — Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. TxDOT administration listened to the needs and priorities of local stakeholders in these areas, and in response, 14 projects have been identified for funding.”
Three Houston projects will benefit from this funding.
“Projects, like the I-45 project, are going to advance a very significant part of work,” said Alan Clark, director of Transportation Planning for the Houston Galveston Area Council. “I-45 is in need of major reconstruction. So, the interchange improvements at 59 and 69, and then on Interstate 10 — one of our key freight corridors in our region and in our state.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner said a paradigm shift is needed on how TxDOT prioritizes mobility projects.
“Instead of enhancing services to the 97 percent of the trips that are made by single occupant vehicles, TxDOT should prioritize projects that reduce that percentage below 97 percent,” Turner said. “I believe that we need to focus the highway resources in the urban core, where congestion is most severe.”
Mayor Turner said there needs to be greater focus on programs like intercity rail, regional rail, high-occupancy vehicle facilities, park-and-rides and programs to remove stalled vehicles, like Houston’s Safe Clear.
He also said cities should be included on highway planning because regional improvements could create new congestion problems on local thoroughfares.
Public comments on the $1.3 billion plan are being taken through February 22nd and a final document will be presented on February 25th.