TML and TxDOT Agree on Voluntary Transfer of Some State Highways
By Karl Wehmhoener | email@example.com
AUSTIN -- Officials with the Texas Municipal League and the Texas Department of Transportation have reached agreement on the broad outlines of a program for cities voluntarily to take over the maintenance of some state highways within their city limits.
Talks between the two organizations, and the Association of Texas Metropolitan Planning Organizations, began after TxDOT unveiled a proposal last August to turn over ownership and maintenance of some state highways in a manner that city officials perceived as a unilateral, unfunded mandate. TxDOT had identified nearly 1,900 miles of state highways in 59 urban areas that are used primarily for local traffic.
"We turned confrontation into cooperation," said TML President Jungus Jordan. "Now we have an agreement on how cities and the state can work together to make road improvements that will benefit drivers in cities throughout the state."
The main provision in the memorandum of understanding signed by city and TxDOT officials is confirmation that city participation in the Highway Turnback Program will be voluntary and not mandatory.
Cities that voluntarily agree to take over ownership and maintenance of a state highway will gain more control over improvements to the road while the state will save money on maintenance
As an incentive to cities, TxDOT has agreed to use up to $100 million from its cost savings to pay for transportation projects within the cities that participate in the program. In addition, TxDOT will ensure that a highway is in satisfactory condition before a transfer occurs, and no highway will be turned back unless the city agrees that it is in satisfactory condition.