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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – On average, Texas drivers in five of the state’s largest metropolitan areas each are losing about 52 hours and $1,200 annually due to traffic congestion, according to the Texas Transportation Institute 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard.

Upon approval by the Texas Transportation Commission, the Texas Department of Transportation says it plans to improve drive times and reduce costs to Texas drivers through a $1.3 billion effort focused on delivering projects at an accelerated pace that addresses gridlock in some of the state’s most congested areas, according to a TXDOT news release.

“The major metro areas of Texas – Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio – represent more than two-thirds of the state’s population and 97 percent of the state’s most congested roads,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner J. Bruce Bugg, Jr., who was appointed by the commission to lead this statewide effort. “These areas see some of the worst congestion in the nation. We’ve just completed a listening tour in these major areas and have gathered valuable local input from transportation leaders regarding their priorities and where we can quickly address some needs. This is the initial phase of a new statewide plan to address congestion.”

If adopted by the commission, the projects will be funded using $1.3 billion made available through ending the use of diversions of highway money by other agencies.

“I recently directed TxDOT to work with transportation planners and local communities across the state to reduce congestion, and today’s proposal is a significant first step in doing just that,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. “Texans are tired of sitting in traffic and have voted to make a historic investment in our state’s transportation infrastructure. I want to thank the Texas Transportation Commission for rapidly responding with a thoughtful approach that identifies and addresses some of the state’s most congested chokepoints.”

“I am grateful to Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Joe Straus and the Texas Legislature for making the diversion funds available for highway projects,” said Commissioner Bugg. “TxDOT is focusing on using this funding to provide Texas drivers relief in an expedited manner. By making these improvements on an accelerated schedule, TxDOT will save $457 million versus building those roads in future years.”

“For years we’ve been committed to addressing congestion, and this year we’re getting a jump start on that part of our core mission,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “As the severity of congestion in the Lone Star State continues to grow, we are committed to delivering projects many Texans need and deserve to reduce the amount of time they spend in traffic.”

The Texas Transportation Commission also will consider another $800 million in additional funding for connectivity and safety, maintenance, repairs to the energy sector and border infrastructure funding.

The commission is expected to vote on all these projects when it considers the quarterly Unified Transportation Plan at February’s commission meeting.

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