Spending Transportation Dollars

About 150-million dollars is on its way to the Houston region for transportation projects. It's a result of the federal stimulus package and represents a fraction of the 2.25 billion dollars Texas will receive overall for transit. As Laurie Johnson reports — there are already some disputes about how the money should be used.

It sounds like a lot of money, but $150 million doesn't go all that far when it comes to funding transportation projects in a region as vast and populated as the Houston area.

So some city projects could get passed over in favor of regional projects like the controversial Grand Parkway extension.

Houston Mayor Bill White contends the criteria for selecting projects for funding isn't consistent.

"If the criteria is that it has to be both fully designed, but not within anybody's budget, frankly I hope that every project that's on that list meets that criteria. I can think of one which I think could be a worthwhile project that I'd be surprised if it was fully designed or even the right-of-way all acquired."

TxDOT faces financial shortages that have put a squeeze on a number of major projects statewide, including joint projects within city limits.

"There are projects that have been on the boards for many years within the city of Houston that can be funded. One of those projects, an expansion of Little York, made the list that is eligible for stimulus funds. But there are other projects sort of didn't make the cut. On at least one of those projects the reason given was that well it was in our budget so why would we need money."

The Texas Transportation Commission will hold a special meeting in Austin tomorrow to review and approve the final list of projects eligible for stimulus funds.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...