Texas says roads don’t pay for themselves

Recently the Texas Dept. of Transportation posted an article describing a study they’ve done showing that fuel taxes don’t even come close to paying for roads (reported on Streetsblog and Worldchanging independently). I’m not surprised by this, and it’s nice to have someone like Texas on my side. However, their article was light on details – what I’d really like to see is the GIS dataset displaying all the roads in Texas, color coded by what proportion of their maintenance costs they do generate in fuel tax revenue (the TXDOT article says explicitly that “not one road” in Texas pays for itself… suggesting that they have done this analysis).

However, when I contacted them for more information, I got this response:

Thank you for your inquiry and request for further information about the Asset Value Index mentioned on our Keep Texas Moving website. The article you referenced discusses a methodology that TxDOT has developed (and recently refined in response to comments made by the Texas State Auditor’s Office) to compare the costs and revenues associated with a particular segment of roadway. The attached report explains that methodology and provides a set of examples of its application. We have not performed this calculation for every roadway segment in Texas. And, we are not currently using the calculation at this time. However, we do believe that the methodology and the information produced from this calculation can be valuable in assessing roadway investments and needs.

If you have any further questions about the methodology after reviewing the report, please contact Lisa Conley or Ron Hagquist in the TxDOT Government & Public Affairs Division Research Section at 512-416-2382.

(emphasis mine) and a PDF of a report describing the methodology they used.

So, what’s going on here. Have they done the analysis or haven’t they? When will they release the full report, or are they going to keep it embargoed, if it even exists? Maybe I should give them a call.

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One Response to Texas says roads don’t pay for themselves

  1. Ron says:

    Also: tractor/trailers and other heavy loads do a disproportionate amount of the damage to the roadway. There is some data available, but I don’t have it right at hand.

    Remember when trailers almost all sported a sign along the lines of: “This vehicle pays $2,345 in road taxes every year?” The idea was to impress people with the amount of road taxes they pay. Well, IIRC, it’s also about 1/3 or less of what they ought to pay, based on the amount of wear they create.

    In New York, there’s a parkway that should be a good source of data. The parkway is closed to commercial traffic. Even in an area with considerable temperature variations and need for winter chemicals, the cost per vehicle of maintaining the parkway is a fraction of what’s needed to maintain an equivalent road that carries the big rigs.

    I am sorry for posting without some sources; this is just from memory. If I can find some data, I’ll post the links.

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