AUSTIN -- The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Transportation is looking at how TxDOT can reduce congestion and increase mobility, while completing projects on time and under budget.
"It is critical for the future of Texas that TxDOT is able to ensure that our roads are appropriately maintained, and that new construction is developed in an efficiently and timely manner,” said Chairman Representative Geanie Morrison.
The committee heard invited testimony Tuesday, including three representatives from TxDOT.
"The fact is that we don't have enough money allocated to do the big congestion relief projects that need to be done,” said Representative Ron Simmons.
"We can tackle some of these major projects, but we're not going to be able to tackle all of them,” said TxDOT Representative Lauren Garduno.
"My biggest concern is the traffic,” said Austin driver Anna Baltierra.
"I guess congestion would be a big transportation issue for Austin, Texas,” said Austin driver Frank Hahan-Martinez.
"You spend so much time in your car, it affects your quality of life so much, traffic would be the biggest thing,” said Austin driver Lyndrick Hamilton.
According to a TxDOT spokesman, 45 percent of the money for the 10-year unified transportation program is allocated to projects that aim to ease congestion. Twenty-three percent goes to projects that connect Texas communities, and 32 percent to projects that aim to preserve roads -- things like resurfacing.
Garduno said by putting more money towards congestion, it would take away from another category.
"Bottom line is it improves congestion, it improves it some, but those other three system performance outcomes that we really get kind of nervous is safety, connectivity and preservation, they take a pretty serious hit,” said Garduno.
"I think we have some tough decisions to make,” added Simmons.
Currently, the 10-year plan allocates $6.8 billion to fix congestion in the Houston area, $5.3 in Dallas, and $2 billion in Austin.
“The metro area Austin, it says $2 billion, where the I-35 project is in your line of sight,” said Representative Celia Israel.
But that money is just a small portion needed for the $8 billion plan proposed to add toll lanes to I-35 from Round Rock to Buda to help with congestion in downtown Austin.
A topic that's still up for debate.
"Right now we're divided, we have a group that says no tolls, and we have a group that says tolls, nothing in the middle, and it's not helping the state of Texas,” said Representative Joseph Pickett.
"I'm pretty happy with the toll roads, at the way they get things done,” said Hahan-Martinez.
"My husband and I, the money that we spend on the roll roads, I just feel like the money keeps going up and up and up, it's an exorbitant amount of money that we pay in toll roads,” said Hamilton.
The committee will discuss tolls and hear from experts on that topic on Wednesday.
But whatever the project, it's up to lawmakers to figure out how TxDOT can get it done on time and under cost.
TxDOT also just launched a new project tracker, where you can find out the status of the TxDOT road project near you. But they want your input on how it works. Find a link here.