Texas Department of Transportation Running Out of Money

By: Meredith Stancik Email
By: Meredith Stancik Email

It is a problem the Texas Department of Transportation says it has been dealing with for a while. State lawmakers have taken so much money from the department that it is running out of money to build new roads.

"Our roads in our district are in pretty bad shape," consumer Matthew Bullock said. "They need to be repaired."

However, that takes money, and money is something the transportation department is quickly running out of.

"We are in a position now, and this is not a new thing, where we are going to be severely limited in what we can do with the funds that are coming in under traditional funding streams," Bob Appleton with the Texas Department of Transportation said.

One reason behind the change: construction prices have gone up 62 percent since 2002.

The Texas Avenue project slated to be complete in March 2008 will cost $17 million. If construction started today, it would cost well over $20 million.

And there is another problem: gas tax rates haven't gone up since the early 1990's. Lawmakers chose to take about $1 billion of gas tax money to pay for other things, so unless you want to pay more to fill up your tank, there will be no money for new construction projects.

"I think we pay enough for gas and there is already enough tax on the gas for whatever government projects are needed," Bullock said.

Traffic has increased in recent years and with that comes a growing transportation demand. But don't look for new roads anytime soon.

"All that traffic is driving on our existing roads, and so we have to maintain those, so we're shifting funding from construction to maintenance," Appleton said.

One thing you may see in the future: toll roads to make up for lost time.

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