By Devin Sanchez
ODESSA - A plan by the Texas Department of Transportation to transfer state road maintenance to cities and counties isn't sitting well with leaders in the Permian Basin. Odessa Mayor David Turner and Midland Mayor Wes Perry are taking their beef to Austin to speak out against the controversial and expensive idea.
"It is taking two steps forward and one step back," Turner said.
In TXDOT's Odessa district, there are 29 miles of roads that are state highways, but according to TXDOT, serve primarily "local traffic." That means the cities could take over maintenance responsibility.
"If these roads come back to the cities, that's going to take away money from those other projects and have to bring it back to maintain these highways," James Beauchamp with MOTRAN, said.
Beauchamp will join the mayors in their quest to the capital.
"We have to go down there and say, 'we're opposed to this. It's not right, we're not getting our fair share anyway," Turner said.
"This is just not a good proposal," Beauchamp added.
Beauchamp and Turner think the big issue is the lack of connectedness between TXDOT and the Permian Basin.
"They live in the bubble of Austin and they don't see what's going on in West Texas," Turner said, with Beauchamp adding, "If there's one thing we know in the Permian Basin, it's that we get the short end of the stick."
Via email, TXDOT responded. They said the transfer, "ensures local control and allows local governments to make decisions that better protect property values and respond to the needs of local residents and businesses."
Still, Mayor Turner said it's not right to lay the maintenance responsibility on the taxpayers.
"We don't mind helping you find other ways of revenue, but you're not going to get it from the taxpayers of Midland/Odessa," Turner said.