Eighty percent of NAFTA traffic passes through Texas, and making sure that the state's highways are up to the job, several local and state officials made sure that was the focus Friday. They met to promote the efforts of TEX-21.
"We have this much of a need, and we have this many dollars," said Lubbock Councilman Tom Martin. He is talking about the pressing need for federal and state support in order to improve area roadways. It was the central issue at Friday's meeting of TEX-21, a consortium of cities and counties advocating for better highways.
"We're trying through political action to be able to get more of our dollars that we send off, returned to us so that we can build highways and roads in this state," he said. Currently, Texas gets back 88 cents for every dollar that it pays in federal highway taxes.
"We're getting funding dollars now and we'd like to get more at a faster rate," said Randy Neugebauer, Chairman of Ports-To-Plains, a vital international and interstate thoroughfare that expedites the delivery of goods and services.
But without continual improvement, it's a system that could face trouble. "One of the things that's a concern to us is that Texas is the 47th in the U.S. in per capita spending for transportation." And that, says Neugebauer, isn't good enough to keep Texas at a competitive advantage.
"The real danger though, is not just Ports-To-Plains, but really it begins to affect the economic impact, of not keeping up you surface transportation in your state. When you're trying to get companies to come to your state and your part of the region, and if you don't have the infrastructure, then you don't get to experience the growth that other areas do," says Neugebauer.