2013-09-05 / Front Page

State Considers Turning Roadways Over to Local Authorities

Lee County Judge Paul Fischer is less than enthused at the prospect of the Texas Department of Transportation transferring the upkeep and financial responsibility for some roadways that are currently designated as state highways, but serve a local roadway function, to the appropriate local entity.

Last month TxDOT officials went to the legislature, asking for $400 million to repair roads and bridges experiencing increased energy production traffic this year. The legislature gave them $225 million.

TxDOT officials announced last week that the agency plans to turn back to local governments 600 segments of road the state now maintains. They cite the lack of funds as the reason that counties are facing the prospect of finding the money for upkeep of roads once considered the state’s responsibility.

Since paving roads is too expensive and there is not enough funding to repave them all, TxDOT’s options are to turn them over to local entities or to turn them into gravel roads.

The decision to spread gravel on effected roads has been delayed by 60 days after Senator Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, noted that the transportation department didn’t consult lawmakers on the gravel solution and by “failing to do so, the agency imposed a unilateral solution on these communities with no notice, no opportunity to seek alternative solutions.”

The Texas Department of Transportation is providing county officials 60 days to review plans to convert damaged roads to high-end unpaved roads in the state’s energy-producing areas before proceeding with the work. During that evaluation, the department will not move forward on converting damaged roads unless there is an immediate safety concern.

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