The Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), allocated more than $2 billion for Bexar County highway projects alone in its 2021 Unified Transportation Program, which was approved Thursday.
The UTP is a 10-year plan that guides transportation work across the state and is updated every fiscal year to distribute construction dollars expected to be available over the next 10 years. Under the updated plan, the expansion of Interstate 35 between Loop 410 North and Loop 410 South received $904 million, one of 13 projects in Bexar County to get a funding boost from the state agency.
“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, TxDOT has been executing its strategic plan, working to complete important road projects all over the state,” said Texas Transportation Commission Chairman J. Bruce Bugg Jr. “Last week, the Transportation Commission approved a $75 billion 2021 Unified Transportation Program, which enables TxDOT to move forward with the planning and development of many more priority projects over the next 10 years here in San Antonio and throughout the Lone Star state. I am very proud of the 12,000 women and men who work at TxDOT to address safety and mobility, and maintain our vast transportation system in an effort to achieve its mission of Connecting You with Texas.”
The area covered by the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) received the second-highest amount of funding from the Transportation Commission in this funding distribution, said AAMPO Chair Kevin Wolff, who also serves as county commissioner for Precinct 3. AAMPO includes Bexar County, Comal County, Guadalupe County, and Boerne within Kendall County.
“This time around, we were great beneficiaries,” Wolff said. “And I will tell you, timing can be everything since I anticipate that TxDOT’s funding streams are going to be greatly impacted by COVID, the economy, etc. Our timing is good because I’m not so sure what the future looks like for anybody in the state, including us. My prediction is the future looks pretty bleak with transportation funding.”
TxDOT spokesman Ryan LaFontaine said it is too early to project how the 2022 UTP would be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We remain committed to meeting the state’s transportation needs and ensuring current projects move forward,” he said in an email Tuesday.
Funding for the Interstate 35 expansion project between Loop 410 North and Loop 410 South got an additional $302 million compared to the last UTP funding distribution, while the Transportation Commission allocated a new $6 million for intersection improvements on U.S. Highway 281 by Farm to Market 1937. Loop 1604’s long-planned expansion is getting $453.9 million from the Transportation Commission. U.S. Highway 90, State Highway 151, Interstate 10, and Farm to Market 1516 all have state-funded construction projects included in the 2021 UTP. Find the entire plan here.
AAMPO has secured around $3 billion over the last five years from the state transportation agency, Wolff said. He will leave his role as AAMPO chair at the end of the year, when he also leaves his county commissioner seat.
“I’ve been on the AAMPO for almost 12 years now,” Wolff said. “Now that I’m going out of office, looking at transportation, this is what I’m most proud of. As a community, we’ve done really well my entire time I’ve been on the MPO. I’m happy about that. That’s part of what I see as ‘the real job’ for elected positions. It’s the nuts and bolts stuff, but it impacts the most people.”