Increase in Drivers Means Increase in Wrecks, No Increase in State Money

Increase in Drivers Means Increase in Wrecks, No Increase in State Money

By Devin Sanchez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND/ODESSA - Over the past 12 years, there has been a steady increase in traffic in the area. The more cars on the road, the more money the Basin should receive, but that's not the case. Many in the area don't believe that's right, especially since the Basin provides more than 80% of the state's crude oil.

"This is an area that is out of sight, out of mind, for a lot of these legislatures and people with TXDOT in Austin," James Beauchamp, Executive Director of the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance, said.

As of Monday, 13 people died on Midland County roads during the first three months of 2013. With three more fatalities in Odessa over the weekend, state lawmakers should pay attention.

"They just don't think about it and it's not a priority for them to send money out here," he said. "From 2000-2012, we averaged a 27% increase in daily traffic out here."

But that doesn't guarantee the area will see any money from the state.

"Funding hasn't gone up out here, because they're not using those new traffic counts, they're still using traffic counts that are about five or six years old," Beauchamp told NewsWest 9.

If TXDOT used the updated numbers, they would have to reprogram the entire state, which Beauchamp said is not something they are eager to do.

"They'd have to start taking money from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and ship it out here, and they do not want to do that," he said.

But withholding money, puts drivers in the Basin at a greater risk.

"When you have that much of an increase over time it creates a burden or strain on the system," he said. "The example I always go back to are the loops in Midland and Odessa "

Still, Beauchamp said change is inevitable.

"At some point, they've got to adjust and I think they realize that," he said.

Especially when this area is providing the state with so much money.

"We're their top producer, and the roof is falling in, so to speak," he explained. "If they don't put a little money into fixing it or helping with infrastructure, they're going to lose their biggest earner."