Texas Forms New Task Force To Direct Funding To Vital Highway Safety Projects

AUSTIN – The Texas Transportation Commission today announced a new task force to be comprised of representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation and the state’s metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to further identify and fund safety projects from funding allocated to MPOs throughout the state with a relentless focus on reducing the number of fatalities on Texas highways.

In 2019, the Commission directed TxDOT to work toward a goal of reducing the number of deaths on Texas roadways by half by the year 2035 and to zero by the year 2050. To achieve “The Road To Zero” goal, Commission Chairman J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. said it is essential that TxDOT work closely with its MPO partners.

“This will allow us to work with MPOs to effectively direct unspent funding from Categories 5, 7, and 8 to critical safety projects that will improve our roadways and ultimately help reduce the number of deadly crashes,” Bugg said. “We know this goal is achievable and this new task force is yet another key component to getting there.”

The TxDOT/MPO Safety Task Force will be co-chaired by commissioners Laura Ryan and Alvin New and will include representatives from across TxDOT and each of the state’s MPOs.

“There is not a moment to waste to ramp up our collective efforts and do all that we can to save lives,” said Commissioner Laura Ryan. “The trend in roadway fatalities is going in the wrong direction, and not a single death is acceptable. These numbers represent real people and real losses. We must do more, and it takes all of us working together.”

“Safety is always the top priority in meeting TxDOT’s mission of Connecting You With Texas,” said Commissioner Alvin New. “We take this responsibility to heart, and look forward to working very closely with the MPOs to strategically and thoughtfully find, evaluate, fund and measure solutions to help reach our goal of zero fatalities, with particular focus on progressing toward our mid-term goal of reducing deaths by half by the year 2035.” 

The TxDOT/MPO Safety Task Force will have an initial two-year term. It will develop a short-term plan to immediately invest funding on current ongoing safety initiatives, such as rumble strips that alert drivers to slow down and when they are veering off the road; cable barriers that prevent vehicles from sliding into on-coming traffic; shoulder widenings to make room for disabled vehicles or more space to avoid a collision; four-lane divided roadways that help move traffic more efficiently; grade separations for uninterrupted traffic flow and increased safety; and other safety measures. In addition, a long-term plan will be created to identify funding sources, from Categories 5, 7, and 8 to establish metrics to measure effectiveness, and describe incentives for the partnership based on the reduction of deaths on Texas roadways.

“Ending the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways is a responsibility shared by every Texan,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “The TxDOT/MPO Safety Task Force will help bolster the partnership we have with local leaders, allowing us to better focus our efforts, our ideas and our funding on saving lives.”

Federal law requires that an MPO be designated for each urban area with a population of 50,000 or more. There are 23 MPOs in Texas. Each of the MPOs receive federal funding for transportation planning.

The TxDOT/MPO Safety Task Force will help direct available funding toward the goal of reducing the number of deaths on Texas roadways. It will provide regular updates to the Commission, with a final report delivered at the completion of its initial two-year term.