Principles and Priorities
Principles. – All transportation policy decisions should be viewed through the
lens of increasing efficiency, efficacy, and ease of movement of people and
goods across Texas and between the other states and our neighboring countries.
We must understand our system needs in the short-term while envisioning a system
that is sustainable for the next several decades. While financing options,
project sizes, and decision processes are limiting factors to implementation, we
cannot originate infrastructure goals based solely or primarily on funding.
Financing methodology is an important but secondary question. Instead, we must
first envision the system the state deserves and then figure out how to pay for
Priorities. - While we must embrace all modes of transport across Texas, the
priority must be the maintenance and new construction of existing systems -
surface road and highway infrastructure, continued maintenance and modernization
of our waterways, and freight rail modernization/optimization, high-speed rail,
and commuter rail system construction. These system priorities should be coupled
with financing and management schemes consistent with state-wide need,
innovation, and a vision that addresses short-term crises as well as long-term
requirements. All modes of transportation are an integral part of the long-term
solution as long as such modes reduce congestion, emissions, and increase the
efficacy and efficiency of the movement of people and goods across the state at
a cost that is sustainable with the opportunities the systems present.
For the future of mobility and continued business growth, TAB supports the
Improved Transportation Systems. Support improved highways, ports of
entry and other infrastructures that facilitate trade, increase the effective
flow of goods and services, promote tourism and increase public safety wherever
these improvements can improve economic opportunity and state productivity.
International Trade Corridor. Support development and funding of
international trade corridors to accommodate cross-border traffic between Texas
and Mexico and those transportation demands resulting from the North American
Free Trade Agreement.
Toll Roads. Support the construction of toll roads wherever appropriate.
Users will directly pay for the new roads, and tolls will be dedicated solely to
maintenance and new construction. Vigorously support public-private partnerships
that accomplish: construction and maintenance of sufficient surface
transportation infrastructure while protecting taxpayer interests and property
Waterway, Port, and Ship Channel Improvements. Support any opportunities
available to the Texas Legislature or Texas state agencies to facilitate ongoing
efforts to improve the maintenance and modernization of commercial waterways and
ports through support for local communities seeking funding through the US Army
Corps of Engineers or other sources and state agency review and coordination of
federal or state permits or authorizations.
Bonds. Support the issuance of bonds, such as Prop 12, Prop 14, Texas
Mobility Fund, as funding mechanisms for highway construction. Obviously, this
can only be done in a fiscally responsible manner with ample funds to retire the
Public/Private Partnerships. Expand the use of Comprehensive Development
Agreements (CDA) to allow the state to tap into private capital to supplement
state funds to build infrastructure.
Pass Thru Financing. Expand this tool to allow local communities to
participate in the process and help fund local needs.
Motor fuel tax limitations. Except for the constitutionally-required
allocation of motor fuel taxes to the educational system, support strict
limitations on the use of motor fuel taxes for other than transportation
programs and the elimination of diversions of transportation funds to other
Outsourcing State Work. Support opening government monopolies to
competition by comparing the cost of projects. If a business in the private
sector can do the job better and at a lower cost than the state, then it should
be outsourced. However, care should be taken to protect Texas businesses from
competing with below-market priced materials/services from overseas in which
subsidies provide an unfair pricing advantage over Texas suppliers.
State Engineering Work. Support outsourcing the state’s engineering work
to the maximum extent feasible to reduce costs and save taxpayer money.
TXDOT. Reaffirm support for the Texas Department of Transportation
(TXDOT) notwithstanding Sunset recommendations that hold the agency accountable
for financial management and performance as well as insist on modernization of
TXDOT operations worthy of a 21st century Texas.