With more than 27 million people living in Texas, it’s no surprise Gov. Greg Abbott last year directed the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees the Texas Department of Transportation, to develop a comprehensive statewide congestion-relief strategy to improve mobility across our rapidly growing state.
This program is now known as Texas Clear Lanes and was welcome news to concerned stakeholders I met with earlier this year while conducting listening tours on the topic of gridlock.
This Texas Clear Lanes funding energized TxDOT and metropolitan planning organizations to develop and deliver mobility projects in the state’s five major metropolitan areas with populations of more than 1 million.
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To see how dollars are being spent to address congestion, visit TexasClearLanes.com.
Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio are home to 97 of Texas’ Top 100 most congested roadways and more than 65 percent of the state’s population.
Last year, the average Texas driver in each of these metropolitan areas lost about 52 hours due to traffic congestion.
In Fort Worth, $265 million has been allocated to reduce congestion, improve mobility and enhance efficiency along Texas 199 from north of Hanger Cutoff Road to Nine Mile Bridge Road; Texas 121 from Texas 114 to Hall Johnson Road; and Interstate Loop 820 East from Randol Mill Road to Texas 121.
As you’ve probably noticed, some of this work already is underway, with completion dates ranging from 2019 to 2021.
For a city that’s home to six of the state’s Top 100 congested roadways, these projects are welcome news.
While we continue to make strides toward addressing congestion in Texas, we also will continue to be challenged by an influx of people who are increasingly reliant on personal vehicles to get from Point A to Point B.
According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, 93 percent of Texans use a personal vehicle as their primary means of transportation, up from 91 percent in 2014.
Additionally, personal vehicle travel grew 29 percent, from an annual average of 13,351 miles two years ago to 17,321 miles in 2016.
Keep in mind that mobility not only benefits individual drivers but also the Texas economy, as goods and services move safely and freely across our state.
As our state’s population grows, the 12,000 men and women of TxDOT will continue to collaborate with state and local leaders to find feasible solutions for funding and other resources to keep people and freight moving safely and efficiently.
TxDOT is committed to serving all Texans, and as our state’s metro areas connect to rural communities, we will anticipate and address the transportation demands of those growing populations.
With Texas Clear Lanes as a guiding directive, statewide leadership will continue to prioritize and accelerate those transportation projects that will help Texans spend less time in their cars and more time doing what’s most important to them.
J. Bruce Bugg Jr. of San Antonio is one of five members of the Texas Transportation Commission.