By J. Bruce Bugg Jr.
Chairman, Texas Transportation Commission
The star on the Texas flag somehow seems to shine a little brighter every year as more and more people move to Texas to find a thriving economy and a better quality of life. While that growth is wonderful to see, it does bring challenges to our transportation system.
Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature, the Texas Transportation Commission is up to the task with the adoption on Aug. 16, 2023 of a historic $142.3 billion investment in building Texas roads and bridges, including a $100.6 billion 10-year Unified Transportation Program (UTP), $34.2 billion in development costs and $7.5 billion in routine maintenance contracts. This plan supports a world-class transportation system focused on safety and congestion relief. With projects across the state, this plan is dedicated to improving safety, addressing congestion and connectivity, and preserving roadways for Texas drivers.
Texans have shown overwhelming support for “turning dirt” on new and better roadways and bridges, and thanks in large part to voter-approved legislation (Proposition 1 in 2014, Proposition 7 in 2015), this total transportation plan is $26 billion more than last year. It provides a significant investment in congestion relief bringing over $67 billion of funding for projects completed, under construction, or planned for construction as part of the Texas Clear Lanes initiative, dedicating funding for projects on Texas’ 100 Most Congested Roadways list.
To help connect the rural parts of our state, the plan also includes an unprecedented $19.2 billion rural investment. That’s a major increase over the past few years compared to $2.2 billion in the 2016 UTP.
For businesses relocating to Texas, a reliable transportation system is crucial in helping to consistently move products to markets across the country and the world. TxDOT has planned, and will continue to plan, for the challenges of a fast-growing population and complex freight movements, and the 2024 UTP will play a critical role in providing the needed infrastructure to efficiently move people and products.
With historic levels of funding, TxDOT stands ready to fulfill my policy as chairman to “execute, execute, execute,” which means build the roads and bridges Texans need and want as soon as possible. Responding to new Texas taxpayer approved sources of funding, we have put this money to work by improving our project delivery efforts for greater flexibility and it has been paying off. In fiscal year 2023, we had our largest award of construction contracts ever, with more than $12 billion in new highway improvement contracts, which is double the amount of contract awards just eight years ago. TxDOT is meeting the moment to deliver the safety, mobility and connectivity improvements that Texans expect and deserve.
Of course, safety is TxDOT’s top priority, and we are staying vigilant in the effort to increase safety to help the people who work and drive on our roadways get home safe to their families. The UTP includes billions of dollars for safety projects, but every project we build has a safety component. Adding all that up, TxDOT is investing $17 billion for new safety initiatives.
Texans deserve the best transportation system in the world, and they can rest assured that Gov. Abbott and Texas transportation leaders are fulfilling our promise to provide them with a safe and reliable transportation system.