Every year the State of Texas is required by law to update its 10-year plan to build transportation infrastructure around the entire state.
This cycle South Texas is projected to receive a windfall of infrastructure dollars, amounting to over $2.2 billion for the next 10 years. For comparison, in 2015 South Texas was only scheduled to receive $596 million for the following 10 years. That’s a 270% increase in South Texas infrastructure funding. You, me, and every South Texas resident has a reason to celebrate this victory, and here is why.
The RGV population is over 1.4 million, according to the 2020 census data, and we’re growing fast. Edinburg, Texas is the fastest growing city in South Texas, but the growth can be seen throughout the entire RGV. While this population increase is great for our statewide economic impact, it means more cars and commercial trucks on the road and highways, more traffic congestion, and longer drive times. Longer drive times means less time with our families and less time doing the things we enjoy.
This investment will be spent preparing our transportation infrastructure for the next generation of South Texans. We will be expanding our state highways, maintaining our current highways and bridges, and improving safety structures throughout our entire region. The improvements will noticeably improve our daily lives, and our entire region will reap the benefits of them.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), in close partnership with our local Rio Grande Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (RGV MPO), is tasked with prioritizing exactly where this $2.2 billion in infrastructure dollars will be spent over the next decade to improve congestion, increase economic growth, and improve travel time for us residents. This is a challenging task because there are several factors to take into consideration, including things like population growth patterns, business growth patterns, and present and future congestion levels.
I applaud the hard work of TxDOT and our region’s District Engineer, Pete Alvarez, and the work of our RGV MPO for staying committed to preparing our community for the future. Additionally, I thank Chairman Bruce Bugg Jr. and his fellow commissioners on the Texas Transportation Commission for their friendship and many hours of conversations we’ve shared on the importance of the RGV economy to the state. I know firsthand that they recognize the economic significance of the RGV to the entire state of Texas.
This is a moment of triumph for the RGV, but we must keep in mind as we move forward that we have not fully solved our state’s transportation finance struggles. In fact, practically every state in the United States is underfunding its transportation infrastructure. Our state’s population is forecasted to almost double by 2050—less than 30 years away—and many experts have said that Texas is severely underfunding its transportation infrastructure each year.
Last session, I made it one of my primary focuses to expand our ability to build transportation infrastructure in the RGV and around the entire state without raising fees or taxes on anyone. As a result, I was able to pass a bipartisan constitutional amendment, which gives our local communities new tools to leverage local transportation dollars. The next and final step is for Texas voters to approve Proposition 2 on the ballot this November 2, 2021.
Proposition 2 is about making smart and strategic public policy that helps create a more prosperous Texas for our children and grandchildren. You can do your part to create a better and safer Texas by voting “Yes” on Proposition 2 this November. To learn more about Proposition 2, visit www.infrastructuretexas.org.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by state Rep. Terry Canales of Edinburg, Texas. Canales chairs the Texas House Committee on Transportation. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author. Canales can be reached by email via: [email protected]
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