The 2023 Unified Transportation Program (UTP) will include an additional $32 billion in funding for maintenance and development, for a total price tag of $117 billion. The governor’s office characterized it as an “unprecedented level of projected transportation funding.”
The plan is focused on some of Texas’ most congested highways such as Interstate 35 in the Austin area and Interstate 610, which loops around Houston.
“The projects will be funded through legislative and voter-approved initiatives that allocate portions of oil and gas taxes, sales taxes, and other money to the state highway fund,” the governor’s office stated in a news release, adding that the Texas A&M Transportation Institute estimated an economic benefit of $15.5 billion to Texas annually.
$14 billion of the plan is allocated for development in rural areas. 58,500 “direct and indirect jobs” are expected to arise from the program.
Abbott commented he expects the plan to be a “huge boon to our state’s infrastructure and booming economy.”
“As more people move to Texas and businesses grow across the state, we are working together to make sure Texans’ transportation safety and mobility are secured and businesses can flourish for generations to come,” the governor said.
Texas has more than 80,000 miles of roadway and “other transportation infrastructure” to maintain, according to TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams.
TxDOT Commission Chairman J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. commented on the merits of the program.
“The UTP reflects a continued focus on improving transportation safety as the top priority, maintaining our current system, addressing traffic congestion, and improving statewide connectivity over the next decade,” Bugg said. “Additionally, we are making significant progress in addressing congestion in our busiest parts of the state through our Texas Clear Lanes initiative, which improves top chokepoints in our largest metro areas.”
TxDOT is already seeking to add a network of charging stations for electric vehicles across Texas. The infrastructure project requires cooperation from the federal government.
A federal law enacted in 2021 provided about $408 million for electric vehicle charging stations in the Lone Star State.
TxDOT came under fire last year after billing vendor IBM overcharged customers by millions of dollars in toll fees. The agency terminated its relationship with the vendor due to the errors.
The State of Texas has faced opposition from local officials regarding transportation projects, such as when Harris County sued TxDOT to prevent the expansion of Interstate 45.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."