AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas has 11 major bridges that need repair, 11 highly-traveled highway segments that need safety improvements and 38 road segments that suffer from unacceptable congestion, according to a national nonprofit group.
TRIP, an advocacy organization based in Washington that has identified the state's top 100 road and bridge problems, warned that Texas lawmakers need to spend more on transportation as the population and economy grow. Poor roads and congestion increase transportation costs and hurt the state's economy, the group said.
"Transportation projects that expand roadway or bridge capacity produce significant economic benefits by reducing congestion and improving access, thus speeding the flow of people and goods while reducing fuel consumption," the group said in its report. "Under current funding scenarios, overall pavement quality is projected to decrease by 43 percent by 2022. Failing to address pavement deterioration in a timely manner increases repair costs over time."
The group predicts that as the population grows the number of vehicle miles traveled in the state will increase 35 percent by 2030. Most of the problems are in major metropolitan areas, particularly Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
TRIP identified Interstate 30 in Dallas County as the top transportation challenge in Texas taking into account its congestion and poor condition, while Interstate 45 between Houston and Galveston ranks second because congestion and deterioration there threatens to impede hurricane evacuations and economic development.
Other road segments in the top 10 list of transportation problems include Interstate 35 in both Fort Worth and San Antonio, the US 181 bridge in Corpus Christi and US 290 in Austin. The report also notes that heavy truck traffic serving the oil and gas industry has severely damaged highways in the parts of the state where drilling is on the rise.
Texas has increasingly relied on bond initiatives for highway projects and the state has seen a 50 percent drop in spending on road maintenance in the last 10 years. A recent study estimated that Texas needs to spend $9.9 billion a year just to maintain road and bridge conditions and congestion at 2010 levels.
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