Deficient roads, highways and bridges and crowded or congested routes in Texas are posing mounting challenges to the state’s residents, visitors and businesses in the form of lost time, increased vehicle operating costs and the financial burden of making needed transportation improvements. This is according to a new report released by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation research organization.
The report, “Texas’ Top 100 Transportation Challenges and the Improvements Needed to Address Them,” identifies 38 segments of the state’s major roads and highways that have significant levels of traffic congestion; seven sections of major roads or highways that have significant pavement deterioration and need to be reconstructed; 11 segments of state roadways that need safety improvements; 11 major bridges in the state that have significant deficiencies and need to be rebuilt or reconstructed; 33 roadway facilities in the state that have multiple needs, including congestion, safety, pavement or bridge challenges. The report also offers solutions for fixing each of the transportation challenges.
“Texas has many more transportation challenges than it has dollars to put towards fixing them,” said Lawrence Olsen, executive director of the Texas Good Roads & Transportation Association. “While it will take a significant investment to improve Texas’ transportation system, the state simply cannot afford not to address the mounting deficiencies on our roads and bridges. Failure to adequately fund the state’s transportation system will result in further deterioration and congestion and countless lost economic opportunities.”
The top transportation challenges in the state, as identified by the TRIP report, are as follows: (Additional details for all 100 transportation challenges can be found in the report’s appendix.)
- Deterioration and Congestion on IH 30 in Dallas-Fort Worth. IH 30 in Dallas County, a critical route for regional and statewide connectivity, is significantly congested and deteriorated from Jefferson to SL 12 East. The freeway would need to be reconstructed and widened, with two to four managed lanes added to relieve congestion.
- Deterioration and Congestion on a section of IH 45 in Houston. IH 45 is a critical route for hurricane evacuation in the greater Houston-Galveston area as well as a major freight route connecting to the Port of Houston. However, from IH 610 to SL 8, IH 45 experiences significant congestion and lacks adequate mobility to support economic development opportunities. Some segments of this roadway, as well as the bridges it traverses, will need to be widened, reconstructed or replaced to improve mobility on the corridor.
- Congestion on IH 35 in San Antonio. IH 35 acts as the primary route for vehicle and truck traffic from the Texas border to San Antonio, Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth. This section of IH 35, from IH 410 to FM 3009, carries significant truck traffic due to numerous industrial companies located nearby. Because the current traffic volume exceeds the capacity of the current roadway, significant bottlenecks form at the IH 35/IH 410N and IH 35/410S interchanges. Congestion could be eased by expanding the existing six to eight-lane facility to 14 lanes (6 Managed Lanes) from US 281/IH 37 to FM 3009. While the corridor is currently undergoing a Planning and environmental study, no funding has been identified.
- IH 35W Congestion in Dallas/Fort Worth. This section of IH 35W, from SH 183 to US 81 in Tarrant County, experiences severe congestion due to inadequate capacity and obsolete interchanges. In order to ease congestion, the roadway would need to be reconstructed to add managed HOV lanes.
- Congestion on IH 410 in San Antonio. This section of IH 410, from US 281 to IH 35, is the primary connection between San Antonio International Airport and IH 35. The current traffic volume exceeds the capacity of the roadway, leading to chokepoints on IH 35 where EB 410 merges with NB 35. Needed improvements to the IH 35/IH 410 Interchange would ease the existing bottleneck from EB 410 to IH 35.
- Deteriorated Pavement Conditions on Statewide Secondary Roads serving the state’s energy sector. Throughout the state, secondary rural and urban roads are becoming increasingly deteriorated. These routes are critical to the development and growth of Texas’ energy extraction sector. However, many are in need of major repairs and added structural capacity to handle the increased traffic, mainly from large trucks as a result of the growth in the state’s energy sector.
- Congestion on US 75 in Dallas/Fort Worth. This section of US 75, from SH 190 to IH 635, experiences significant congestion and has already been built to maximum capacity. Congestion on this route could be eased by the addition of six elevated managed HOV lanes and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) improvements.
- Congestion on US 290 in Austin. As a major commuter route, US 290 between SL 1 and RM 1826 experiences severe congestion. This area has seen high residential growth without corresponding transportation improvements that would facilitate the convergence of three major highways: US 290, SH 71 and Loop 1 (about three miles east). During peak periods there is no access for emergency vehicles due to congestion, lack of shoulders and no alternative route. To ease congestion, the route would need to be reconstructed to add a six-lane toll road with frontage roads.
- Bridge Deficiency, Safety and Congestion on US 181 at the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. US 181 connects Corpus Christi and the Port facilities to communities and facilities north of the ship channel. The current route is congested, needs safety improvements and includes a deficient bridge. However, because a replacement structure that would meet modern design standards does not fit in the current footprint, a new location is needed. A new structure would address the steep climb, sharp approach curves and lack of shoulders on the current structure.