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Experts: Texas Heading Toward A Transportation Crisis

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some experts claim Texas is headed for a transportation crisis unless the state comes up with more money for highways.

It’s no secret the current gasoline tax you pay when you fill up at the pump doesn’t come close to keeping up with building and maintaining Texas highways. Steve Stagner, President at Texas Council of Engineering Companies, believes that without more money Texas roads will get worse.

“If we keep the level of investment that we have now then we’re gonna go from a level where 85-percent of our roads are in good or very good condition, to one where about 15-percent of our roads are,” he said.

Currently Texans pay 38.4-cents, in federal and state taxes, per gallon of gas for road construction and maintenance. The amount has remained unchanged since 1991 and resulted with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) taking on $30 billion in debt to finance transportation projects.

Predictions of the ‘oncoming crisis’ were made during a Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition (TRTC) meeting Wednesday. “We’re gonna start feeling the impacts of that within a couple years,” claimed Stagner. “The impact will be congestion, it will be pavement quality, it will be connectivity in the rural area, [and] it’ll be bridge conditions.”

Current highway construction is being paid for with tolls fees, bond money and stimulus funds.

The Texas Tribune is publishing a four-part series on the growth of toll roads and lanes across the state. According to their report, the Dallas-Fort Worth area collects the second largest amount of tolls in the state and the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) is the country’s 10th-largest toll agency in terms of revenue.

During the TRTC meeting an increase in the state gasoline tax was strongly encouraged.

Lawrence Olsen, executive vice president of Texas Good Roads, said he doubts state lawmakers will hike the gasoline tax anytime soon. “I don’t really think that anyone contemplates at this point that there be any kind of serious movement on increasing the state motor fuels tax in the next session of the legislature.”

Olsen also made the claim that it is still costing drivers to ride on ‘free’ roads in the state. ‘Texas motorists today are paying a hidden tax in repairs, in insurance payments and certainly, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, in lost time.”

Experts deem the amount of money generated from gasoline taxes insufficient and point out that the states highways and byways don’t even get 100-percent of the proceeds. Currently, one-fourth of the current Texas gasoline tax is diverted to public education.

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