Texas will need a total of $28 billion over the next two years to maintain its current road system, according to a report conducted by David Ellis with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Ellis provided details about his findings to the Texas House Transportation Funding, Expenditures and Finance Select Committee on Tuesday.
There is a gap of $4 billion per year to fund Texas road investment, stated Ellis, even if voters approve a ballot initiative to redirect $1.2 billion annually in oil and gas revenue from the state’s general Rainy Day Fund to support transportation improvements. This constitutional amendment must be approved by Texas voters in November 2014.
According to Ellis, two major sources of funding for roadway maintenance and improvement face systemic problems need to be addressed. Both the state and federal motor fuels taxes have not increased in the past 20 years. Additionally, vehicle registration fees in Texas, which also provide transportation revenues, are levied according to the class of vehicle rather than the cost. This has prevented the state from taking full advantage of the increasing rate of car ownership within the state.
Ellis stated, “Because we keep increasing fuel efficiency, which is a good thing, the number of gallons of gas you consume to drive the same number of miles goes down.” Ellis added that another factor is the rising cost in road construction and materials.