Yes, things are bigger in Texas, including growing pains. But with those challenges come great opportunities that are worth their rewards when patience and perseverance prevail.
After all, our population and economy are booming for very good reasons — Texas is the 11th-largest economy in the world and one of the world’s most desirable places to live, work and do business.
As the second-most populous state in the nation, Texas today grows on average by about 1,100 people per day. As a result, state transportation leaders have taken unprecedented steps to address the challenges of congestion, safety, connectivity and the preservation of existing roads.
One of the biggest undertakings is the Texas Clear Lanes (TCL) initiative established in 2015 by the Texas Transportation Commission and Texas Department of Transportation under the directive of Gov. Greg Abbott. This effort primarily targets the Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston areas – where 65 percent of the state’s population lives and 92 of Texas’ 100 most congested roads are located.
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Through Texas Clear Lanes, we’ve made significant strides toward improving the quality of life for millions of Texas drivers. And the work, and its benefits, are far from over.
In Fort Worth and surrounding areas, several projects are in the works to bring traffic relief to drivers. SH 121 is being widened north of DFW Airport to house a new interchange at I-635 with new direct connectors at FM 2499 and SH 26; and work has also begun to widen I-820 between Pipeline Road and Randol Mill Road. This three-mile project will add one lane in each direction, create new direct connectors to and from SH 121, and replace the SH 10 and Trinity River bridges, improving mobility and safety for motorists.
More than $24 billion has been directed toward congestion in our major metropolitan areas as part of TxDOT’s 10-year, $75.4 billion Unified Transportation Program – the largest funding package in state history – with 30 identified congestion-relief projects.
Additionally, more than 1,300 lane miles have been added to state roads since 2015 and more than 2,600 non-tolled road projects worth $11 billion have been completed. Other highlights include a historic $3 billion worth of road project contracts approved during June, July and August of 2018, and nearly $8 billion in approved road contracts for fiscal year 2018.
Also, a key priority for us is addressing safety and roadway improvements in the energy sector. Over the next decade, a historic $3.4 billion will be directed toward road repairs and upgrades in the energy-rich Permian Basin. Already, since 2016, the region has benefited from nearly $1.8 billion in safety and infrastructure investments. On Dec. 6, 2018, TxDOT was awarded $50 million in federal grants to pay for additional improvements related to safety and connectivity in the booming Permian Basin.
On the topic of safety, there is always room for improvement, but recent statistics are noteworthy.
From 2016-2017, Texas saw fewer fatalities on state roads. Also, bicycle and pedestrian fatalities decreased by 10 percent. Our commitment toward saving lives and positively affecting driver behavior through ongoing education, training and awareness will continue as we aim to make Texas roads safer.
Since the passage of Proposition 1 and Proposition 7 in 2014 and 2015, under Gov. Greg Abbott’s leadership, state transportation leaders have made it a priority to turn dirt and make transportation work.
Indeed, keeping up with a booming economy is a formidable challenge, but it’s one we look forward to meeting as we all reap the benefits of these opportunities by living and working in the great state of Texas.