February 25, 2019
Senator Kirk Watson several bills today providing the Texas Legislature multiple options to fund the transformation of I-35 in Travis County.
“Congestion contributes substantially to the cost of living in Central Texas,” Sen. Watson said. “As congestion worsens, people are paying a premium to live closer to our economic centers. And for those priced out of housing close to their job, they spend more money and time getting to where they need to go, often paying for more hours of child care while they are commuting.”
The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) in 2018 ranked 14 road segments in Travis and Williamson County among the state’s 100 most congested. I-35 through Central Austin, from SH 71 to US 290 East, is third on that list. It is also the most congested segment on TTI’s newly-created list of roadways congested by truck traffic. The study further estimated the annual cost of congestion to Central Texans was over $1.3 billion in wasted time and fuel.
Sen. Watson also filed legislation to increase statewide funding for transportation — with some funds going to education — as well as local options for residents of large, urban counties to consider investing further in road and transit expansion.
“Texans need and deserve affordable, reliable transportation options for drivers, transit riders, bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Sen. Watson. “Adding managed lanes to I-35, investing in safety and mobility improvements across the state and permitting major urban counties to increase investments in dedicated transit pathways are tools the state can and should provide our fast growth, high-congestion economic centers.”
The transportation bills include:
The final bill in Sen. Watson’s transportation funding tool box enables major urban counties, including Travis, to utilize existing authority to enact up to a 1% sales tax despite the 2% cumulative, total local-tax cap. A list of the projects to be funded must accompany the required referendum and the authorization would last only 30 years. Three-quarters of the funding must be used for transit and the remaining funds could be used for road improvements. The bill will be filed in the coming days.
“Each of these financing methods have their detractors, but there is no highway fairy, money doesn’t grow on trees and we can’t get something for nothing,” Sen. Watson said. “Talk is cheap – roads are not.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kate Alexander, Office of Senator Kirk Watson: (512) 463-0114