Governor Rick Perry highlighted the importance of using all available tools to strengthen Texas' infrastructure, specifically touting the State Highway 130 public-private partnership and reiterating his call to end budget diversions from the state's transportation fund. The governor was joined by Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Executive Director Phil Wilson at a ribbon cutting for the completion of the final 41 miles of SH-130.
"Thanks to SH-130, traffic flowing along one of America's most important trading routes has a new option, which will help ease travel time for motorists in the area," Gov. Perry said. "Infrastructure is a major reason businesses continue to look to Texas for expansion or relocation. We have to use our fiscal discipline and every tool at our disposal, including public-private partnerships like this and ending diversions from Fund 6, to create the infrastructure necessary to handle a population that's growing by 1,000 people a day."
Ending budget diversions from Fund 6, the state's transportation fund, for non-transportation related projects is an important component to the governor's Texas Budget Compact priority to pursue greater truth in budgeting. The governor proposed the Texas Budget Compact as an opportunity to reset Texas' budgeting process in the upcoming legislative session, and reiterate the state's commitment to being responsible stewards of tax dollars. Ending diversions from Fund 6 is an important tool to helping ensure Texas has the resources available to meet the infrastructure needs of our ever-growing population.
SH-130, also known as Pickle Parkway, now stretches a total of 91 miles from Interstate Highway (IH) 35 in Georgetown to IH-10 near Seguin. SH-130 will provide congestion relief for IH-35 drivers and new mobility options for Central Texas motorists, who can drive the final 41 miles of SH-130 for free until November 11. Starting November 11, the toll rate will be $0.15 per mile, and can be paid via TxTag or billed through TxDOT's pay-by-mail service.
"SH-130 is an outstanding highway and a great example of how transportation solutions can be realized when government and the private sector work together on behalf of all Texans," Chairman Houghton said. "Commuters and business people traveling through central Texas no longer have to deal with congestion and best of all; taxpayers did not get the bill."
The State Highway 130 Concession Company financed, designed and built the project. No taxpayer dollars were spent on the construction of the road, but the state will receive a share of the toll revenue generated, which will be used for other regional mobility improvements. The company will operate and maintain the road at no additional cost to the state for the next 50 years.
At Gov. Perry's request, the Texas Legislature passed legislation in 2003, 2005 and 2007 that opened the door for the development of public-private partnerships to address our state's transportation infrastructure needs.