AUSTIN – At their regular meeting Thursday, the Texas Transportation Commission acted unanimously to approve roughly $250 million in highway project contracts funded by Proposition 12 bond proceeds, which were authorized by the Texas Legislature in 2009. This contract letting is the first for the $2 billion in highway projects approved for Proposition 12 funding late last year.
Included in this month’s contracts is a Blanco County project on State Highway 32 between US 281 and the Comal County line.
“This $390-thousand project will resurface SH 32 and improve the skid properties of the highway surface,” according Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) spokesman John Hurt in Austin. “Rehabilitation projects account for 12 of the 16 projects statewide, worth over $84 million and improving roadways in 11 Texas counties,” he added. “Safety projects comprise the remainder and account for over $2 million.”
“Innovative funding programs like Proposition 12 bonds provide an opportunity to advance badly needed safety, rehabilitation and mobility projects,” said Fred Underwood, member of the Texas Transportation Commission. “By approving these bonds, voters showed they place a high priority on improving transportation.”
Texas voters initially approved the Proposition 12 bond referendum in 2007, directing the Legislature to authorize up to $5 billion in general obligation bonds – bonds paid back using general revenue, rather than fuel tax revenues - to be spent for transportation projects.
When the Legislature acted to authorize issuance of Proposition 12 bonds, they provided some direction for how the proceeds must be spent. Specifically, Senate Bill 1 allows $2 billion in Proposition 12 bond proceeds be spent on non-toll highway projects, with $1 billion expended by September 2011.
To select projects, TxDOT staff utilized a process similar to the collaborative approach used to select American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects. TxDOT districts and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) were asked to develop a list of all needed projects that fit the bond program’s requirements and criteria to evaluate them. In all, Texas MPOs and TxDOT districts identified over 850 potential projects with a construction value exceeding $8.9 billion.
Using the criteria recommended by TxDOT’s partners, the Department divided projects among three areas and used the following criteria to determine which would be recommended for funding:
• Corridors of statewide significance, which were recommended based on traffic density and crash rates;
• Rehabilitation and safety projects, which were recommended based on pavement improvement index and safety improvement index; and
• Mobility projects, which were recommended based on the amount of delay reduced and their correlation to the “Top 100 Most Congested Segments of Roadway.”
More information, including a complete list of projects selected for Proposition 12 funding, or to monitor the progress of these projects on the TxDOT Project Tracker, visit TxDOT’s website, www.txdot.gov. For more information about the effort to “finish” I-35, visit www.MY35.org.