The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) released their study on congestion in Texas, and as almost anyone who has driven recently in Austin could tell you, it doesn’t look good for the capitol city. As the Austin Monitor reports, TxDOT’s 2014 Most Congested Roadways in Texas cites Austin as home to some of the most congested stretches of road in the entire state. As the fourth most congested city in the country, it is safe to say this is no surprise. But just what does this mean for Austin?
The most congested roadway in Austin – and the second most congested piece of road in the entire state – is the central stretch of I-35 through downtown. Beat only by the piece of the 610 loop in the Galleria area of Houston, the congestion at the heart of Austin isn’t only costing you time on your way to work.
Traffic from just this one piece of Austin road is costing the local economy upwards of $196 million per year as well as $72 million in lost transit time for the trucking industry. Two more separate parts of I-35 have their own spots on TxDOT’s top 100, along with eight other pieces of Austin infrastructure. All told, I-35 from Slaughter down south to Parmer up north is costing Austinites upwards of $250 million dollars and 1.4 million hours of delay (not counting the additional impact on the commercial trucking industry).
Kelli Reyna, one of the public information officers for the Austin region of TxDOT, told the Austin Moniter:
- I don’t think I have to tell anyone that traffic in Austin is extremely congested, and with the current amount of expenditures, it is only going to get worse. We know we can’t just build our way out of this. It’s going to take some innovative thinking to begin solving the congestion problem.
Both the city of Austin and the state of Texas have transportation on their minds this November. Austin City Council voted in August for Project Connect, a $1 billion bond proposal on the ballot this fall. This bond would be used for a combination of road projects and mass transit through urban rail, with $600 million focused on a 9.5 mile rail line, and $400 million going towards local roads.
The statewide ballot will also have the question of transportation funding on the line for voters all across Texas. Move Texas Forward, also known as Proposition 1, would allow for revenue from the oil and gas production tax to go to the State Highway Fund, resulting in an estimated $1.7 billion just in the first year. The money would be used for construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation, and would not be allowed to be used for toll roads.
Texas has a transportation problem, and it is one we have to solve. As our state continues to grow, our infrastructure must be ready to meet the needs of businesses and residents alike. Both of these propositions will help to alleviate the strain of funding our infrastructure needs, but they are also both the first steps in a long term solution. Texans must choose whether we value our infrastructure enough to invest in it – and then we have to stick to our guns and fund it.
Curious about the other most congested parts of Austin? The capitol city’s roads made up over 10% of the top 100 most congested areas in the entire state, including: MoPac Expressway from 183 to 360 (25th), South Lamar from Cesar Chavez to 290 (47th), South Congress Avenue from 11th to Ben White (53rd), West Slaughter Lane from Brodie to I-35 (66th), Guadalupe Street from North Lamar to Cesar Chavez (80th), North Lamar from 183 to 45th (82nd), Loop 360 from 2244 to 290 (98th) (RM 2244 to US 290), and South First Street from Cesar Chavez to Ben White clocking in at number 99.