AGC of Texas President
David Casteel said the recent
historical investment of $85 billion is divided into 12 categories of work ranging from routine maintenance, bridge upgrades, air quality, building major mobility projects and much more.
(Photo courtesy of TxDOT)
When the Texas Department of Transportation and Gov. Greg Abbott recently announced the approval of a record $85 billion in construction funding as part of a 10-year plan to upgrade and maintain highways and transportation systems, it gave the Lone Star state a large influx of funding that will help put many contractors to work over the next decade.
The 2023 Unified Transportation Program (UTP) will include an additional $32 billion in funding for maintenance and development, for a total price tag of $117 billion. The governor's office characterized the recent approval as an "unprecedented level of projected transportation funding."
The majority of funding will go toward Texas' most congested highways, such as Interstate 35 in the Austin area and Interstate 610, which loops around Houston.
AGC of Texas President David Casteel, vice president of Williams Brothers Construction Co. Inc., is very pleased with the funding announcement.
"The AGC of Texas is thrilled by the $85 billion record setting UTP [10-year plan]," he said. "This kind of investment in Texas infrastructure will allow our members to plan for growth and be part of building an ever-better Texas for ours and the next generations. This kind of investment is good for all of Texas.
"The UTP is divided into 12 categories of work ranging from routine maintenance to bridge upgrades to air quality to improving bike trails to building major mobility projects. Our 700 general and associate members do all these kinds of projects. This infusion of funding will help the smallest to the largest contractor have more opportunities to bid projects."
Casteel is confident that Texas general contractors and subcontractors have the personnel and resources to take on the work that is planned.
"This is Texas, we can do anything," he said. "We always have and we always will. Our organization is working with TxDOT on improving specifications as we speak. These improved specifications will make sure Texans enjoy quality facilities made with Texas-sourced aggregates and other materials. We also are actively expanding the potential workforce with training and outreach. Our workforce and training committees are hard at work securing the needed skilled labor for today and tomorrow and the results are fantastic. The TxDOT letting in August was an all-time record with more than $1 billion in projects let for a single month and TxDOT had ample bids submitted. Competition is intense.
"The AGC of Texas was instrumental in working with communities and the legislature for the passage of Prop 1 and Prop 7," Casteel added in response to what the AGC of Texas in lobbying for this increase in spending means.
"These constitutional amendments passed with approximately 80 percent of the vote," he said. "The brave legislators that proposed dedicating a portion of the oil and sales taxes to transportation have been supported by the AGC of Texas. We are grateful for an educated voter base that understands and appreciates the importance of maintaining and improving transportation infrastructure. Our job is to keep clear communication with elected officials and the voters open and to never betray the trust they have given us."
Casteel stressed that TxDOT has the expertise and resources to implement the program.
"TxDOT took $10.6 billion to award in FY 2022 and I believe they are targeting over $11 billion in FY 2023," Casteel said. "Additionally, TxDOT is re-examining their financial models and working with the AGC of Texas to keep us informed. The good news from this is the $85 billion plan might be more when it is updated next year."
A total of $14 billion of the plan is allocated for development in rural areas. A total of 58,500 "direct and indirect jobs" are expected to arise from the program.
Abbott commented he expects the plan to be a "huge boon to our state's infrastructure and booming economy."
"As more people move to Texas and businesses grow across the state, we are working together to make sure Texans' transportation safety and mobility are secured and businesses can flourish for generations to come," the governor said.
Texas has more than 80,000 mi. of roadway and "other transportation infrastructure" to maintain, according to TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams.
TxDOT Commission Chairman J. Bruce Bugg Jr. commented on the merits of the program.
"The UTP reflects a continued focus on improving transportation safety as the top priority, maintaining our current system, addressing traffic congestion, and improving statewide connectivity over the next decade," Bugg said. "Additionally, we are making significant progress in addressing congestion in our busiest parts of the state through our Texas Clear Lanes initiative, which improves top chokepoints in our largest metro areas."
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