Over the last 2 years, MOTRAN has worked diligently on a plan to leverage development and accelerate critical transportation infrastructure in the Permian Basin, and that work is now paying off.
The Unified Transportation Plan (UTP) is developed by TXDOT administration and updated twice each year. The UTP is the ten-year transportation funding blueprint or budget for Districts and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO’s).
Most of the funding in the UTP is designated by formula, however, some funding is allocated by the Commission to regionally and locally significant projects which address critical infrastructure issues or have an impact to growing the economy.
Our plan was to encourage the use of some local funding to help leverage projects to obtain additional funding during revisions and help accelerate some key projects that would not normally be built during the current ten-year period due to limited state funding.
The project is modeled in part, after our efforts to obtain additional funding for expansion of the State Highway 349 corridor between Midland and Lamesa. TXDOT had already scheduled significant maintenance funding for the existing roadway, but to expand the 2-lane corridor into a 4-lane undivided roadway, we had to raise additional funding from the Midland Development Corporation, Midland County, Dawson County, the City of Lamesa, and the Lamesa Development Corporation. Those additional local dollars sent a clear message to the Transportation Commission about how important those improvements were to people in the region.
In late 2016, the Midland Development Corporation and City of Midland approved allocating $15 million towards this program, and in 2017, the Odessa Development Corporation and the City of Odessa also allocated $15 million towards the program.
That constitutes a $30 million investment in Midland and Ector Counties, alone, towards making significant improvements to critical infrastructure like Loop 250 and Loop 338.
Since then, we have also used this same model to encourage private investment throughout the Odessa District. Currently, 4 sand mining operations in the western portion of the Odessa District have agreed to put $4.5 million towards improving area roadways around their plants to increase capacity and make our roads safer.
One company has even offered to look at additional funding to help leverage expansion of State Highway 302 in Winkler County.
The current 2016-2026 UTP for the Midland-Odessa area programmed $168 million in funding for the 10-year period. During the initial 18 months of the program, our area has seen an addition $53.3 million programmed in total funding or just over a 30% increase. During that same time, our area received an additional $24 million in Category 12 (discretionary funding) or an increase of nearly 15%.
MOTRAN President James Beauchamp stated, “Our original goal was to bring about a 42% increase in funding for the area, but based on our results so far, we expect to see a much higher return. Recently, a lot of folks have been talking about improving relations in Midland and Odessa, but while they were talking about it, we implemented a plan that will greatly improve our infrastructure. People around the state are looking at Midland-Odessa in awe, wondering how we could get this done. We appreciate the leadership at MDC and ODC, as well as, both cities, they stepped up to the plate in a far more significant fashion than we anticipated or imagined, and area residents are going to benefit greatly from that investment.