TxDOT to Hold Open-House in Houston on its 2035 Transportation Plan

The Texas Department of Transportation wants to hear from drivers in the Houston area, as it puts together its next long-range transportation plan. As David Pitman reports, there's an open house this week for people to learn more about tough choices facing the state's highway network.
The biggest challenge TxDOT is staring at right now is the lack of money to keep up with population and traffic growth over the next 25 years. Peggy Thurin is the agency's statewide planning coordinator.

"We're anticipating needing $370 billion in improvements, and we're only looking at approximately $54 billion in anticipated funding over that period."

Thurin says that funding gap could force drivers to change their habits, and their expectations.

"Can we shift work hours that might move some of the people off the peak-period drive time? We may need to accept a lower level of performance. Pavement quality may be less than what we're used to dealing with."

And then there's the idea of somehow raising more money, likely in the form of higher registration fees and fuel taxes. Thurin admits that'll be a hard sell for both drivers and lawmakers.

"I think education is probably what we need to do. Just explain to people that if we don't get additional sources of revenue, in whatever form that is, this is going to be the outcome of it."

TxDOT has been working on its 2035 Transportation Plan since February. It will share what it has learned so far, and ask for additional comments at an open house public meeting set for late tomorrow afternoon at its district offices on Washington Avenue. After that, the agency will craft the final version of the 2035 plan. Formal adoption of the plan is expected in October.

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...