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Window on State Government

Transportation Task Force

August 24, 2000
Comptroller's Office Hears Transportation Concerns in Laredo
The border region suffers from a lack of state transportation funds to address the overwhelming increase in traffic due to NAFTA, leading to a need for alternative transportation funding methods and funding formulas. This was the consensus at the August 24 Texas Department of Transportation Performance Review hearing in Laredo.Panelists “Transportation funding should be based on need,” said Laredo Mayor Elizabeth Flores. “The TxDOT formulas give little weight to border traffic and the population numbers do not take into account the more than half a million vehicles registered in Mexico that use our border roads.”  More-->

Massey Villarreal, Task Force Commissioner

The role of transportation in the lives of Texans is immense. Texans drive more than 16 million vehicles over 367 million miles daily. 296,000 miles of Interstate and other highways and city streets bear the impact of this traffic. 1600 airports and 10,000 miles of railroad support the transportation of goods and people. State government's role is carried out through the Texas Department of Transportation. (The Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Aerospace Commission also have transportation related responsibilities.)

The Texas Department of Transportation received $ 4.3 billion in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2000 and a like amount for the following fiscal year, almost 10 percent of the State's budget. The Department employs approximately 14,700 persons in its central office and 25 district offices across Texas. The Department was created in 1991 through the merger of the State Department of Highways and Transportation, the Department of Aviation, and the Motor Vehicle Commission, and in 1997 the Legislature added the Texas Turnpike Authority. This consolidated department is governed by the three member Texas Transportation Commission, all appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, among whom the Governor designates a chair, who serves as the state's Commissioner of Transportation.

The Department's role in transportation is extensive. It plans and designs the state's systems of highways and oversees their construction and maintenance. It prepares a statewide masterplan for the state's transportation system and disburses funds for urban and rural public transportation projects. It plans and develops systems of transportation that include roadways, mass transit, aviation, railroads, and navigation on waterways. It assists local governments in developing transportation systems.

The Department also registers motor vehicles and issues certificates of title. Through an independent Motor Vehicle Board, it regulates manufacturers and dealers of new motor vehicles. The Department also promotes travel and tourism, publishes Texas Highways magazine, and administers the State's laws related to highway beautification.

With the arrival of a new century, the State's transportation system and the governing Department face new challenges of unprecedented scope. The Department must manage its resources to meet the state's growing needs and improve the quality of transportation services throughout the state. To maximize the financial resources available for these improvements, it must identify opportunities for saving money or increasing revenues. It must develop strategies to streamline and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations. Finally, it must identify and replicate practices that improve its efficiency and effectiveness from both external and internal sources. The continuing rapid growth of the state's population and its increasing role in national and international commerce underline the importance of addressing these issues and finding the best answers.

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