State Official Warns of the "Cost of Doing Nothing" to Improve West Texas Roads

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

BIG SPRING- On a whirlwind tour throughout North and West Texas, State Representative Drew Darby from San Angelo is meeting with community stakeholders to discuss what he calls a crisis looming in the under funding of our roads in the Lone Star State. On Wednesday, he met with officials in Big Spring.

Representative Darby says our roads are not equipped to handle the growing population. He compares it to a leaky roof.

"If the roof starts leaking, you don't wait until the leak expands and collapses the whole roof and then it costs a lot of money to fix the roof."

He says that right now each Texas household is spending about $1,500 wasted fuel, decreased productivity and so on. He blames that on our failing transportation infrastructure. He says that by 2030, that dollar figure will skyrocket to $5,300 per household if we do not address the issue now.

Meeting officials say we can no longer turn a blind eye.

"Ports to Plains" Alliance President, Michael Reeves, says, "The roadways and the highways are the arteries for us, especially here in West Texas. We desperately need that connectivity for our economies to thrive."

Representative Darby drives the point home by adding, "The food we get off the shelves at HEB and the gasoline that we put in our tanks comes through roads in Texas."

They says that by 2014 there will be no new money in the state of Texas to fix our roads. Fixing the problem boils down to money, but how do we generate more revenue?

Transportation officials at the meeting say there are ideas being tossed around, all of them mainly having to do with increasing fees. They've discussed raising the fees for vehicle registration, vehicle inspection, oversize/overweight permits, commercial trucking and international trucking.

Representative Darby is urging communities to talk to their local lawmakers to find additional solutions for funding.

Reeves says, "I think most people understand [there will be] a minimal investment and there's a great pay off on it. It's a lot better than the Powerball odds."