With an annual budget growing toward $13 Billion, the Texas Department of Transportation is effectively larger than the GDP of over 80 countries. Seems unbelievable and a waste of tax revenue until you really try to understand what they do. Ok, sure, there is an inconvenient pot hole on a road you use or traffic is terrible in your area or you got a ticket for not paying a toll? WELL, odds are that the pot hole is in a road that is the responsibility of a county or city and if you are in bad traffic then you are part of the problem (think about it) and as far as tolls, why did you take the toll-way….to avoid the traffic you were causing….. and some toll-ways are not even controlled by TX-DOT.
The highway system in our State is massive. It cuts through mountains, swamps, beaches, plains, bays, forests, valleys, cities, seas and urban areas. Each person in each part of the State thinks that their highway or bridge or overpass is the most important and is URGENTLY in need of repair . TX-DOT engineers are working on projects and acquiring easements for 20+ years in the future. If each driver spent only 20 seconds planning their daily drive, traffic congestion may be reduced without paving another road.
TEX-DOT is also tasked with lobbying for, receiving and using Federal money which is often dictated by the nice folks in Washington….many of whom have never been to Texas. They must comply with Federal regulations, safety issues and HUB, WBE, MBE, DBE and other minority contractor set asides in order to qualify for funds. TX DOT and DBE issues are a big deal. It’s a complicated puzzle and is much more intricate than most folks realize.
NOW, also figure in the estimated 1,000 cars a week that are added to our highway system by nice people moving to our great State. Yes, those people just show up, have not paid taxes, registrations or tolls to our State in the last forever but our now using our infrastructure. Sure they will eventually pay into the system but absorbing the influx and trying to keep up with what we have is, again, complex. The link below makes for some good reading and helps keep what TX-DOT does in context.
by: Diana Bounds