Inside scoop: Texas Transportation Commission Nov. 2023
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Inside scoop: Texas Transportation Commission Nov. 2023

Nov. 16, 2023

By Laura Butterbrodt

AUSTIN—Here’s what the Texas Transportation Commission approved at its November meeting.

Electric transit vehicles

The Texas Transportation Commission awarded just over $6 million for the Electronic Transit Vehicle Pilot Project, which will add 21 fully electric, zero-emission transit vehicles and charging station infrastructure to existing fleets at four rural transit districts

Capital Area Rural Transportation System, El Paso County, Senior Center Resources Public Transportation, and STAR Transit will receive fleet deliveries and charging equipment in early 2024.

The EV Pilot Program will help TxDOT and transit districts better understand the benefits and costs of electric transit and its potential for expansion throughout the state, especially in rural and geographically diverse areas. The program received $4.8 million in Federal Transit Administration grant funding and $1.2 million of state funds.

Military employment preference

The Commission agreed to propose amendments to the Texas Administrative Code to expand and rename employment preference for veterans. Instead of a “veteran’s preference,” recently enacted legislation established a “military employment preference” priority when hiring.

The military employment preference now includes the spouses of veterans and military members if:

  • The applicant’s spouse is a member of the U.S armed forces or Texas National Guard serving on active duty.
  • The applicant’s spouse is a veteran with a total disability condition and the applicant provides the household’s primary source of income.

Military members and their dependents are now also eligible to be served by each state agency designated veteran’s liaison. 

Road connection

The commissioners granted permission to Harris County to use state highway property to connect the Sam Houston Tollway to the non-tolled SH 225 with three direct connectors. The commission approved the use and access of state-owned property for five direct connectors at the same interchange at its February 2023 meeting. 

Harris County will be responsible for the design, finance, construction, operation and maintenance of all eight direct connectors with construction expected to begin in 2025. Humberto “Tito” Gonzalez, Jr., director of TxDOT’s transportation planning and programming division, said the direct connectors at the interchange will help mitigate increases in freight traffic volumes. TxDOT will have no associated funding obligations with these projects.

Aviation developments

The Commission appointed two new members to the Advanced Air Mobility Committee, which looks at current state laws and considers proposing changes to help improve and implement advanced air mobility technology in Texas. The new committee members are Ben Ivers from Boeing and Dan Dalton from Wisk Aviation. 

In addition, the Commission approved $29 million in aviation grants for 20 capital improvement projects at airports throughout the state. 

Other actions:

  • The Stonewall Water Control and Improvement District in Gillespie County will relocate its utility facilities as part of the US 290 highway improvement project, at the cost of $625,000 to the state. 
  • The Commission approved $602.5 million for 49 highway improvement projects and transportation facilities and $72 million for 60 routine maintenance projects.