The state of Texas has invested significant taxpayer money into expanding the state’s highway and road system, despite research that claims these projects do little to alleviate congestion.
Texas Observer Executive Editor Megan Kimble has studied road infrastructure throughout the state and wrote about the issues faced by commuters. Kimble joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to explain why Texas roads and highways are dangerous and why the problem has not been solved.
2018 car accident
In 2018, Kimble worked on a story for the Observer about a car accident that injured a commuter. This woman lived far away from her low wage job and could not afford to live in the city or in the inner ring suburbs.
Each day, her 180-minute round-trip commute put her in danger, as Texas highways tend to get congested. After the accident, the woman was diagnosed with a concussion and unable to work, which further limited her income. This story intrigued Kimble and inspired her to learn more about the Texas highway system.
Widening Texas’ highways
According to Kimble, the State of Texas has not invested in public transportation within its cities. The Lone Star State has become more urban due to companies and people moving into the state, which caused the price of homes to skyrocket in and near metropolitan areas.
This forced many Texans to relocate to areas where home prices cost less, far away from the big cities.
Kimble said the Texas Department of Transportation spends $16 billion per year on road projects. The Texas State Constitution requires 97 percent of DOT funding to be spent on road projects, which effectively kills public transit projects.
In rural areas, the problem is worse, as 1 percent of the funding goes to public transportation. Rural Texans are at the mercy of their vehicle to get to and from work, with one breakdown potentially costing them a day’s pay or their job.
Kimble said the road to a solution will not be easy, but telling the stories of those who put up with the traffic nightmare is a good start.