Below is the HillCo client report from the January 30 Texas Transportation Commission meeting.

The following report focuses only on the municipal highways turnback program update.
John Barton, Deputy Executive Director, TxDOT

  • During a workshop meeting in June 2013, the commission asked staff to look into partnership strategies that would reduce the demands on limited resources available to the department
  • One item considered would turn back some municipal highways to the state’s largest municipalities
  • There are approximately 6,900 lane miles of non-freeway state highways in cities with populations of 50,000 or more
  • Transferring ownership could save $165 million per year for the department
  • Types of roads are generally characterized as local streets
    • Lamar Blvd in Austin; Westheimer in Houston; Cooper St in Arlington; others
  • Staff has visited with the communities and spoken with their leadership to explore the partnership and many discussions have been very positive
  • Several communities are expected to take these partnerships on
  • Texas Municipal League is working with TxDOT and metropolitan planning organizations to develop a plan for how this program may work
  • The recent Texas Transportation Forum gave an opportunity to meet with many stakeholders to discuss the program
  • Key discussion points were positive:
    • Strongly encouraged to be a completely voluntary program
    • Roadways should be given back in a state of good repair
    • The state may be able to provide some financial assistance while communities work these roads back into their budget
    • There should be consistency from community to community
    • TxDOT should continue to carry out projects that have been in the four year plan
    • Resources being saved should be redeployed for transportation needs within those same communities
  • Several communities want to advance conversations
    • San Antonio has announced plans to take back over 100 lane miles
    • Lubbock has passed a resolution to take over 150 lane miles
    • Dallas County, City of Dallas, Midlothian, City of Fort Worth, City of Waco and City of Weslaco have all expressed interest as well
  • Commissioner Jeff Austin made the point that at first people thought this was a cramdown program but in fact it is not
  • Commissioner Fred Underwood  emphasized the fact that communities have the ability to get the roads back the way they want them and to work the lanes into their budget slowly
  • Commissioner Victor Vandergriff asked when a new projection of savings will be announced
    • As roadways and program advances staff will keep track of cost changes and make that information public