West Texas Highways Left Out With No Funding

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - As Midland County Commissioners revealed during their morning meeting, the Basin isn't receiving enough funds to build any new road or highway projects in the future.

NewsWest 9 wanted to find out what projects are getting left out and what it means to West Texans.

Some Midland officials claim the Texas Transportation Commission is using discretionary funding, fueling roads in larger areas like the Dallas/Fort Worth area and El Paso.

They said counties out here in West Texas are getting the short end of the stick.

"The fact that you can't build a project but you can't even plan or try to get a project ready. From that perspective we really feel like the Permian Basin's been cut off in a lot of regards," Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance President, James Beauchamp, said.

Beauchamp told NewsWest 9 that planned expansion projects for Highway 385 and repairs for Highway 349 have been scrapped because of this.

Highway 349 is in need of repairs and extra safety measures like widening the shoulders.

Beauchamp said it's seeing more than 40% more traffic, mostly truckers, and that eight fatalities have happened on the Highway since its opening.

"The existing road that's out there hasn't been rebuilt in over 30 years," Beauchamp said. "It's below 50% on the pavement index. But we're not gonna do anything with that because we don't have any planning authority and we don't have any construction dollars."

West Texans may end up paying out of their own pockets as well.

Officials said there's a possibility that fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees could go up.

That has some Midlanders wanting to know where their money is going.

"I love Texas roads. I like the roads in Midland. I don't want to hit a chuckhole," Midland resident, Mike Jones, said. "It's time that we start asking. I don't think we should say no, just flat no, for no reason, but not yes either."

In the meantime, officials said they'll be petitioning state legislators to return to formula funding, where areas can receive funds as long as they meet certain requirements.

"It's a daunting task, it's very difficult, none of this is easy, there's no guarantees, but we think the Basin's worth fighting for," Beauchamp said.