e-Texas Online, not in line.
null Home Events News Hearings Contact


Asset & Financial Management
Competitive Government
Education (K-16)
Environment/Natural Resources
Government Performance
Health Care & Human Services
Human Resource Management
Legislative Advisory Group
Local Government Empowerment
Public Safety & Corrections
Regulatory Reform
  - Meetings
- Staff


Window on State Government

Transportation Task Force

Arlington, May 9, 2000

Comptroller's Office Hears Transportation Concerns in Arlington


Texas needs to continue its efforts of combining resources for more efficient implementation of transportation projects, according to testimony given in Arlington at the May 9 public hearing of the Texas Department of Transportation Performance Review, which is also a part of Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's e-Texas initiative.

"Every area of the state should be included in the development of new advocacy and planning organizations," said James McCarley, executive director of the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition. "Local elected officials, economic development groups and business and civic leaders need to join traditional transportation organizations in involving state leaders to make transportation and air quality a high priority."

The Legislature, in the 76th session, charged the Comptroller's office with reviewing TxDOT to find ways to improve Texas' transportation system. This is the fourth transportation public hearing Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander has held throughout the state.

The hearing is in conjunction with Comptroller Rylander's e-Texas commission which is charged with developing recommendations to help Texas state government meet the challenges of the Internet Age.

Major Issues

Major issues discussed by panelists include:

  • Continuing regional partnerships with TxDOT for project funding and implementation,
  • Finding alternative funding methods, including GARVEE bonds, without legislative earmarks and fair-share equity, and
  • Streamlining projects from planning to permitting to completion.

Panelist Commentary

The Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition (DRMC), the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) all stressed the importance of working together with TxDOT on transportation projects.

"We need to continue to pursue regional partnership programs, much like the partnerships in the Dallas-Forth Worth region," said Michael Morris, North Central Texas Council of Governments transportation director.

Morris also stressed the need for more TxDOT employees in the North Texas region. Dallas-Forth Worth is the only urban area with two TxDOT regional offices. However, Morris said the workload is too heavy for few employees. He added that TxDOT salaries are too low, so employees frequently leave for the private sector's high salaries.

The NCTCOG plan also includes a call for decentralizing project decisions. Working together with TxDOT, the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) could more efficiently move a project along if decision making can be made at the regional level with TxDOT commission approval.

Decentralization of decision making would lead to streamlining project implementation. The NCTCOG mobility plan includes suggestions to cut the time it takes to plan, approve and complete projects. In fact, all three organizations, the DRMC, the NCTCOG and the NTTA plans all stress streamlining the project process.

"Time has a way of killing projects," said Jerry Hiebert, executive director of the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA). "The more time we spend on planning, permitting and funding, the less likely the project will be implemented."

Hiebert added that NTTA, in conjunction with TxDOT, planned and is implementing in stages the President Bush tollway in Plano. The project plan was broken down into three segments, allowing for construction on one segment while permitting and planning continued on the other segments. The first segment is complete, the second is under construction and the third is undergoing environmental permitting. The first segment was half of the entire project.

Additionally, by making the President Bush freeway a tollway, this cut down on completion time. Tollway project funding is guaranteed differently than traditional transportation project funding, allowing for the implementation process to move more quickly.

Another alternative funding method for transportation is GARVEE bonds, highway construction bonds backed by future federal highway revenues. Although GARVEE bonds are not currently used in Texas, the topic is likely to come up again in the next legislative session.

Directing more revenue from the fuel tax to transportation was also mentioned as a means to find more funds for mobility projects.

Morris said the NCTCOG would also like to see the state move to a "fair-share" equity system.

e-Texas is an initiative of Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Post Office Box 13528, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas

Privacy Policy
State of Texas Home Page Statewide Search from the Texas State Library