Katy Freeway Expansion
Good morning. Thank you Commissioner Johnson.
There are a lot of things the people of Houston can brag about. Houston is home to a diverse, dynamic people of many different backgrounds. Houston has one of the best big city public independent school districts in the nation.
It is the headquarters for numerous multi-national companies, a baseball team in a pennant race, and even will have NFL football back next season.
Houston also has something it is less likely to brag about: serious traffic.
Among the most congested stretches of road in the United States is a 20-mile segment of the Katy Freeway from Loop 610 all the way to the city of Katy.
Constructed in the 1960’s, the Katy Freeway was designed to handle 79,000 vehicles per day.
Today, that freeway handles 207,000 vehicles per day, almost three times what it was designed to handle. Maintenance costs are almost four times higher than average for highways in Texas. And every three years the Department of Transportation spends an additional $5 million to add asphalt.
These are some of the reasons why the renovation and widening of the Katy Freeway is supported by the great majority of the business community, including the Houston Partnership, and many Houston commuters.
But such highway expansions are not without their own headaches, especially when they drag on for years on end.
That’s why I am asking our state’s three transportation commissioners to consider - at their next meeting – a proposal to accelerate the reconstruction of the Katy Freeway.
Construction on this $952 million project is slated to begin on a few segments in 2003.
But if the state utilizes innovative financing techniques with federal funds, reconstruction can begin on a much wider scale, and the project can be finished eight years ahead of schedule.
With friends like Congressman John Culberson working with Texas on the federal level, we can maximize our highway dollars and build the infrastructure we need more quickly.
If we accelerate construction of the Katy Freeway, Harris County families in the years ahead will spend less time stuck in traffic, and more time with their children and loved ones.
Relief from congestion can come sooner, eight years sooner, under my accelerated construction plan.
With four additional lanes going each direction, and new HOV lanes, the people of Harris County will find driving on the Katy Freeway to be less frustrating, and less time-consuming.
On November 6th, Harris County residents can also have a direct impact on traffic congestion at the ballot box.
Proposition 15 allows voters to choose an alternative to the status quo when it comes to traffic. It creates a Texas Mobility Fund that utilizes bonds and other innovative financing ideas to get more highways built right away.
Bonds mean projects will be finished, on average, six or seven years sooner at roughly the same cost. It is the fiscally responsible way to build roads.
And if voters approve Proposition 2, as I hope they will, the state will have authority to bond roads in colonias all along the border.
This $175 million bond proposal will improve conditions for some of our poorest neighbors, Texans who live in colonias. Postal trucks, emergency vehicles and school buses will be able to access colonia residents even after a good downpour.
It will mean a healthier border, and a brighter future for its citizens.
I urge the people of Harris County and southeast Texas to support Propositions 2 and 15 in November.
Those important ballot propositions, along with the innovative financing I'm asking the Transportation Commission to adopt, will speed-up highway construction and expansion today, will help get needed roads built, and keep Texas moving tomorrow.
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