Editorial: Invest in highways to
keep city moving
San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted : 09/29/2003 12:00 AM
Unpleasant evidence that San Antonio must invest
more local funds in highways continues to slap the city in
The latest startling development was the Texas Department
of Transportation decision to force a $13.8 million refund
of federal dollars allocated to the city during the past four
The decision was based on the agency's assessment that San
Antonio's population growth in recent years lagged in comparison
to other cities competing for highway dollars under a federal
The situation is yet another wake-up call for the San Antonio
region. Area officials would like to see state leaders raise
motor fuel taxes for transportation, but they can't count
on it. The clear trend from the federal and state levels of
government is to push tax burdens to the local level.
More local dollars must be put into highways or San Antonio
drivers are destined to be mired in traffic congestion.
Transportation officials attending a recent San Antonio forum
sent the message strongly. Express-News staff writer Patrick
Driscoll reported the bad news: the dearth of available state
funding means traffic congestion will be 60 percent worse
in 25 years - unless San Antonio takes action.
Steps already are being taken. Commissioners Court has asked
the Texas Transportation Commission to approve plans for a
regional mobility authority, which will be empowered to start
a toll road system in Bexar County.
The mobility authority will need more options than tolls
for raising money in the foreseeable future.
One idea that failed to make it out of the Legislature this
year is a regional sales tax on gasoline to fund area transportation
Consumers pay gasoline taxes, but a sales tax is not imposed
on motor fuels. Some drivers may find this option preferable
to toll roads, although officials say an array of funding
measures will be needed.
The news isn't pleasant, but daily traffic jams aren't good
for economic development or the city's quality of life.