State Roads Under Local Control? 8/22/13
August 22, 2013
Odessa/Midland – What used to be a function of TxDOT could be shifting to local city governments. While it allows for more local control, it also comes with a multi-million dollar price tag, and it’s taxpayers who could be feeling the pinch. If passed this would save TXDOT 165 million dollars a year by turning roads that are generally maintained by the state inside city limits, into the cities and tax payers hands.
“We are looking at several roads throughout the state that when they were initially built as Farm to Market Road, your state highways, they’ve really become local connectors,” said Commissioner of the Texas Transportation Commission Jeff Austin III.
This means the state sees these roads as mostly being used by the city. President of MOTRAN Alliance James Beauchamp says most cars go through these cities due to unfinished TXDOT projects. “A part of the reason that those inner city roads are so important is because we don’t have a fully developed loop system within either community.”
Beauchamp says if this was to pass, both communities will be in a bind. They will now have to now pay with the money the city has saved up for improvements or other developments, forcing them to make a call between the two.
“They’re going to have to choose between that and maintaining these roads. At the end of the day if they go through with it, it’s going to come back on tax payers,” said Beauchamp.
Highway 158 that runs through Midland, Faudree and 42nd street in Odessa are among the roads on the list. State representatives say this is good for cities, allowing them to have more jurisdiction and choice on what to do with their roads in the city limits.
“To turn back these roads to the cities, it would allow them to have local control for curb cut, if they want to make sidewalks or if a city wants to put a median. So it gives a lot of local flexibility to have to not go through the state to do that,” said Austin.
Beauchamp and Mayors from both Odessa and Midland will be attending a commission meeting next week in Austin to participate in a discussion with state officials. This meeting will determine if this is truly something that we will see happen in the coming months.