The latest idea from the Texas Department of Transportation to free up money for construction of non toll expressways, 1200 WOAI news has learned, is to turn over responsibility for maintenance of state highways inside urban jurisdictions to city governments.
A TxDOT memo obtained by 1200 WOAI news says a total of 1,897 miles of state maintained highways could be turned over the city governments, at an annual savings in maintenance costs of $165 million.
While most commuters seldom notice the signs, many major surface streets in San Antonio are really state highways. Nacogdoches Road, for example, is technically Farm to Market 2252. Bandera Road is State Highway 16, Culebra Road is FM 471. Blanco Road, Southeast Military, Northwest Military Highway, and numerous other roads in San Antonio are actually state maintained roadways.
The proposal will be discussed by the Texas Transportation Commission at its regular meeting next week.
Cities are already rebelling against the proposal, which would cut deeply into city budgets. The Texas Municipal League says cities contributed $112 million in cash and much more in rights of way donations and in kind services to state highway construction in 2012, pointing out that they already do their share to maintain state highways.
Meanwhile, TxDOT has decided to give another thought to a very controversial plan to convert paved Farm to Market roads in six counties in the Eagle Ford region southeast of San Antonio into gravel roads.
"These are the roads that are going to the oil and gas leases that are driving the economy right now," State Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) told 1200 WOAI news.
TxDOT says it will consider over the next sixty days whether to move forward with the controversial plan to convert paved roads to gravel. The department said it would save money, but people who live along the roads say it will lead to more chipped windshields and lawmakers like Keffer say the state should not make it harder for oil to be moved out of the lucrative Eagle Frod play.
"The money and the time period is an issue," Keffer said. "But within those parameters, I think more can be done to make sure that everybody is in agreement."