TxDOT and Lawmakers Fight Over Priorities

In Washington, Texas congressmen are upset with the state Transportation Department, TxDOT, over a letter they received from the agency. In the letter, TxDOT demanded that all projects be cleared with them before obtaining federal funding, but lawmakers say that's not how it works. Charles Davis reports from Capitol Hill.

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Humble Republican Congressman Ted Poe is blunt about what he thinks of TxDOT these days.

"They've gotten too big for their britches. Obviously."

Poe's angry over their letter. He argues only lawmakers should choose what projects are built because only they are accountable to the public.

"TxDOT is an administrative group and they are to spend the money as we direct that they are to spend it, whether they like it or not. Their responsibility is not to determine projects. Their responsibility is to build bridges and roads and freeways."

TxDoT receives a large part of its funding from Washington. But they usually need to match those funds, sometimes for projects they think aren't a priority. Spokesman Randall Dillard says they just want to make sure everyone works together.

"We didn't mean to offend anybody by the letter. We're certainly sorry if it did offend people. Our intent is just to make sure that we can advance transportation projects here in Texas."

Lawmakers sent a letter to TxDOT asking them to clarify their position on funding. But almost a month later, they say they haven't had a response.

For Houston Public Radio, I'm Charles Davis on Capitol Hill.