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State of Texas: Bumpy Roads Ahead

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Dave Mann has been with the Observer since 2003. Before that, he worked as a reporter in Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Philadelphia. He thinks border collies are the world’s greatest dogs, and believes in the nourishing powers of pickup basketball.

If there's one thing Texas has long done well, it’s road building. But perhaps no more. Texas’ population is exploding, and the state’s road builders can’t keep up. During the 2013 legislative session, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials said they need $4 billion a year in additional funding just to keep up with demand. The Lege provided just $200 million in new money, and proposed an additional $1.2 billion annually in a special session, but voters will have to approve that increase in 2014. Even with that extra money, TxDOT would still face a $2.6 billion road maintenance shortfall. Over the summer, TxDOT announced plans to convert 83 miles of South Texas roads from pavement to gravel. In October lawmakers found extra money to keep some of those roads paved, but others may still be turned to gravel. Either way, the state’s transportation infrastructure will remain strained and underfunded.

Source: Texas Department of Transportation. Illustration by Joanna Wojtkowiak.