ULI Austin News

July Breakfast Recap: CONNECTING THE TX DOTS

July Breakfast Series Recap:
Connecting the TX DOTS | How Transportation Silos are Slowing Central Texas Down
July 26, 2017           Provided by Hahn Public Relations            Platinum Underwriter: doucet_nov-2016

Moderator: Terry Mitchell, President of Momark Development and a Member of the Capital Metro Board


Key Takeaways:

  • The majority of the members of the Texas Legislature do not want any new taxes, tolls, fees of debt to build new or expand existing highways
  • The Central Texas region is receiving $2.5 billion from the State over the next 10 years for road projects; as a community, we had the option to put the money toward one big project (e.g. partially expand I-35) or spread the funding across several projects, which is what our region decided to do with it
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation may move forward with a $1 trillion transportation project, but it will likely require projects have a public-private partnership component; however, Texas leadership is not interested in P3 projects
  • Unlike previous Austin road bond projects, the recently passed $720 million bond package includes a provision from the Austin City Council to define and assess outcomes based on pre-determined metrics
  • Despite regular rumors that Austin does not get its fair share of the State’s transportation dollars, Commission Vandergrift assured the audience that Austin does receive its fair share based on formulas established more than a decade ago that include population and lane miles as factors; in the past, however, Austin did not receive as much money because we did not have consensus as a community or among leadership about toll roads, which is less of a priority today
  • Austin has the highest concentration of jobs in the central business district of any U.S. city (between 24-29%), but that creates traffic congestion issues; in Houston it’s 8% and in Dallas, it’s 9% – should we be looking at land development models with multiple employment centers all over the region?
  • In Austin, we don’t have a common transportation vision for our region even though we have good planning and partnering in place

Additional Notes:

  • The Dallas-Fort Worth region received $7 billion from the State and leveraged it to $21 billion from local jurisdictions and some private investments because they had more consensus on the projects that needed to get built
  • Approximately 85% of Texas’ population lives in an urban area, but only 1 of 10 members of the Texas Transportation Commission is from an urban area advocating for urban transportation
  • The new Austin transportation bond is leveraging $200 million from the State with $50 million from the City to improve Loop 360
  • Of the urban transportation budget, cities like Austin, San Antonio and Fort Worth receive about 11-12% each, whereas DFW receives more than 20% and Houston receives about 36%
  • The CAMPO 2040 plan has approximately $35 billion in desired wants, but state and federal funding only accounts for $8.6 billion – cities and counties will contribute, but there is still a big delta to make up
  • There is proven data that shows the economic benefit of “cut and cover” strategy whereby highway lanes are lowered and covered by redevelopment, as they did in downtown Dallas and is being considered in Austin
  • On parts of I-35 in Austin, there are 190,000 cars daily; we think that’s bad but on parts of I-35 in Dallas, there are 230,000 cars daily and more than 300,000 cars daily at points of I-45 in Houston
  • Staffs of MPOs across the state get together often, but leadership of MPOs don’t and they should
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