A new report from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts sheds light on Texas’ highway infrastructure needs.
By 2040, the state’s population is expected to be nearly 45 million people. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates about $60 billion is needed in the next 10 years to improve traffic flow in urban areas and another $20 billion is needed for statewide connections and border-trade projects. But these costs are not sunk. Experts estimate that these projects lead to a significant return on investment and promote economic investment from the private sector.
Since 1923, Texas has used a motor fuels tax to build and maintain state highways, roads and bridges. Last fiscal year, those taxes brought in nearly $4 billion, about 6 percent of all state taxes collected. Across all 50 states, Texas’ motor fuels tax is the 7th lowest.
Those state funds are often combined with U.S. federal Highway Trust fund, but that revenue is slowing down as cars become more efficient. Because newer cars get more miles to the gallon, drivers fill up their tanks less often. That means there are fewer taxes going into the state’s highway fund. Adding to that is the emergence of electric vehicles, which use the same roads, but do not pay any fuel tax because they do not use gasoline.
Despite these challenges, our growing economy and innovative approach mean that Texas is well positioned to invest in the future.