Transportation Infrastructure Fund – Texas Legislature Sets Aside $225 Million For County RoadsMay 30, 2013
Teas county roads have taken a heavy toll in damages due to the increased traffic in the Eagle Ford oil and gas exploration region. In what looks to be a start to fixing local roads in South Texas, the Texas legislature has set aside $225 million in what was deemed a Transportation Infrastructure Fund.
Officials in the shale counties spent the session negotiating with the oil and gas lobby and lawmakers to find funding for repairing rural roads, many of which have been suffered extensive damages from thousands of heavy trucks traveling across them to access drilling operations and oil fields. The county road damages in the shale exploration regions has contributed to a surge in 18 wheeler accidents and threatens to stall the region’s future energy production.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDot) will administer a grant program that will distribute the funds. The beneficiaries will be counties in West and South Texas who have been affected by high volumes of oilfield traffic. Senator Carlos Uresti stated “It’s never been done before where the state appropriates money for county roads.” The program will last for two years and the money will be used to fix county roads. Counties will also be able to set up “County Transportation Reinvestment Zones” that will allow local districts to raise property taxes and sales taxes to help fund road repairs. TXDoT money typically funds repairs of highways and farm to market roads. This will be the first time in history that state money has been used to repair county roads. According to reports, local counties will have to cover 10-20% of the cost of repairs. The full stories are available here.