By Doug Begley, November 12, 2014
When it comes to Houston area transportation, the numbers sometimes can be enormous, and so can the plan.
Staffers at the Houston-Galveston Area Council are putting the final touches on the 2040 regional transportation plan, the long-range plan for highway and transit spending in the region. The plan is required so the area can receive federal funds, and projects included in it lay out how the region plans to handle traffic.
The price tag for all these fixes: $77 billion, in current dollars. The money comes either from taxes or tolls.
It’s interesting to note a lot of that money comes from the Metropolitan Transit Authority, though a quarter of its sales tax collections fund local street repairs. Based on the spending plan, Metro also receives about $33 billion over the long term, including $4.7 billion in projects related to major transit upgrades such as new light rail lines and commuter transit.
That leaves a lot of road projects, something people pushing for more transit have fretted about since the last regional plan was passed four years ago. As the region grows, planners and transit backers have said Houston-area workers will likely rely on more transit rather than continue to drive alone to various job centers.
Right now freeways make up a small portion of our roads, but a large portion of where miles are traveled, according to area travel surveys and data included in the regional transportation plan.Major city streets make up more than half the region’s roads.
Sure, 2040 is a long way away, but the projects listed become reality, or not, much sooner. The population is growing, and the planning being done now is guiding how Houston will combat congestion — or more specifically how Houston will do what it can to prevent congestion from becoming much worse as more people live in the area.
The discussions, starting with a Wednesday morning meeting of the regional council’s technical advisory committee, are moving into the public comment stage. Meetings are planned across the area starting Wednesday night.
So yeah, it might be a long way away, but things are moving fast. Here’s a list of the meetings, followed by H-GAC’s video series on transportation in Houston.