Mobility demands meet historic trends at the Texas Transportation Forum
When asked where they were headed to homestead in the 19th century, many Americans famously answered, “Gone to Texas!” Back then, wagon trains were lucky to find wheel ruts to follow to the Lone Star State. These days the roads are just a little bit better, but that old saying—and concerns over how to manage
traffic once those folks get here ‘ are just as relevant.
With new businesses “moving to Texas in droves,” Governor Rick Perry urged state lawmakers to come up with solutions to ease congestion during the Third Annual Texas Transportation Forum in Austin, April 20-22. “If we can’t find a way to move their people, goods and services—they are going to leave.”
Perry’s warning was part of his keynote speech to the 1,276 people in attendance. The governor told the crowd that Texas’ population is growing by 1,500 people each day, which is the equivalent, the Aggie graduate said, of filling Texas A&M’s Kyle Field stadium every 55 days. The two-day forum was dominated by conversations about comprehensive development agreements, deteriorating infrastructure, the motor fuels tax and the debate over earmarks in transportation bills.
Speakers like State Representative Mike Krusee, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, gave examples of why “the system is failing.” The legislator from Central Texas told the crowd that over the last 25 years, vehicle miles traveled increased 100 percent, yet highway lane miles only increased 3 percent. Krusee also said that there has been a 425 percent increase in travel delay.
Other keynote speakers included Congressman John Mica and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who both serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The forum was hosted by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Associated General Contractors of Texas, Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association and Texas Transportation Institute (TTI).
“TTI is pleased to be one of the co-sponsors of this annual statewide forum,” said TTI Director Dennis Christiansen. “As we look toward the future, we will be addressing transportation issues through a variety of new partnerships and approaches. This forum is an excellent way to bring together individuals from local, regional and state government, as well as the private sector, to discuss how we will develop and operate the Texas transportation system.”
The opening session of the forum included a video tribute to the late chair of the Texas Transportation Commission, Ric Williamson, who died December 30, 2007. Williamson was an adamant supporter of public-private partnerships. “With his passing, we certainly lost a clear, passionate voice,” said Governor Perry. “But the challenges that he vigorously fought to overcome have not gone away. If anything, those challenges have grown larger.”