DALLAS — Texas would need $315 billion in additional revenue to keep up with growing demand for roads and maintenance of existing infrastructure through 2030, but sources of revenue are drying up rapidly, according to the latest reports.
In a Thursday meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission in Austin, a panel known as the 2030 Committee will report on finance scenarios that have been updated through 2035.
There is no best-case scenario, according to the report, because the idea of growing capacity to meet demand appears unrealistic. That left the next-best-case scenario of maintaining roads and bridges at the 2010 levels.
That scenario was assigned a letter grade of B, with less ambitious options graded C, D, and F. The F scenario would be to allow unacceptable conditions to arise by continuing on the current course. The C scenario would aim to maintain roads on a par with similar-sized states, and the D scenario would seek to maintain the worst acceptable conditions.
“It is cheaper to keep roads in good condition than to fix them after they deteriorate,” the report noted. “Maintaining transportation facilities is similar to maintaining a vehicle; it is easier and cheaper to change the oil and filter than to burn out the motor and then replace it.”
Option F, staying the current course, would cost the average household $232 per year in taxes and fees but would cost an additional $6,100 per year for extra travel time and increased fuel purchases for the stop-and-go conditions, the report said.
Option B would cost an additional $402 in taxes and fees but would return $2,440 in benefits each year, the report notes.
Starting next year, the Texas Department of Transportation won’t have enough funds for some projects, though all projects are covered this year.
The state fuel tax is 20 cents per gallon, and TxDOT gets 15 cents of every dollar spent on gas. Because the fuel tax is levied per gallon, revenue has already begun falling as drivers use more fuel-efficient vehicles or simply drive less because of the economy.
With the Republican-dominated Legislature vowing no tax increases of any kind, no state official is discussing the possibility of a tax increase. The last legislative advocate for indexing the fuel tax, Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, was bumped from his role as chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee.
Texans pay less in transportation fees than residents of 43 other states, including those of almost all states with which Texas competes economically, according to the 2030 Committee. Texas ranks 18th among states in vehicle registration fees, 29th in state gasoline tax rate and 44th in overall annual cost of vehicle ownership.
Among the choices identified for increased funding are local option taxes for specific projects and increased use of tolling.