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It’s Time To Get Moving…

2017 is in our rear-view mirror, and we’ve captured our mobility triumphs and challenges in

the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s 2017 Annual Report, aptly titled “It’s Time to Get Moving.” (You can also view our interactive report here.)

Several of my posts over the last year have emphasized the important role transportation plays in your quality of life, and this report reinforces that. We designed our report to be reflective of our commitment to transparency and to creating mobility solutions for our region. Here is a preview of some of the topics covered:

The report focuses on our highest priority: you, and your life

From work/life balance, to food, to leisure time and health … Central Texans shared with us what defines quality of life for them. 78 percent of you believe that MORE TIME would improve your quality of life, and 87 percent say traffic congestion negatively impacts it.

I don’t think there’s any surprise there, but this continues to motivate us to explore the most viable mobility solutions we can provide, with the funding and resources available to us. We’re working to create solutions so that you can spend more time doing the things you love and less time sitting in traffic.

We believe communities make projects better

We create meaningful relationships with stakeholders that help guide our mobility solutions. Before we disturb a single blade of grass, we engage the public to learn their needs and expectations so that we can ultimately design a project that serves the mobility needs of the entire community. We work together to provide an end result that makes the most sense for everyone.

And not just in building or improving roads, but also in designing shared mobility options. We collaborate with environmentalists on preserving and enhancing our green spaces, utilizing native landscaping and planting trees. The 183 South project is not only the region’s largest project since SH 130, it’s one of the nation’s greenest – while also preserving one of our historic landmarks, the Montopolis Bridge.

We use technology in a high-tech mecca

The long-awaited, variably tolled MoPac Express Lane represents the first-of-its-kind congestion management tool introduced in the Central Texas area. We are always looking for additional ways to integrate smart technology into our projects, including our Traffic & Incident Management Center and collaborating with Google, so that you can get real-time information on traffic conditions through the community-based traffic navigation app, Waze.

There are many other smart-road technologies that our staff researches for viability in near- and long-term planning – from autonomous vehicles, to solar installations. It’s an exciting time to be in transportation, and Central Texas is a perfect proving ground for smart-road technologies.

Toll truths

The need for infrastructure upgrades, improvements and expansions has garnered a lot of publicity lately, and so have tolls. Nowhere is that more true than in Central Texas. But with that attention comes misinformation. We detail some myths about toll roads in this annual report, but here is a brief summary:

  • Tolling is a double tax – taxes are mandatory; tolls are a user fee that the driver chooses to pay
  • We’ve already paid for the roads – gas taxes are not enough to cover the need, especially as vehicles become more efficient, and road maintenance costs are higher than road building costs
  • Propositions 1 and 7 contain money for roads – those are a great start, but are still not enough to cover the statewide need
  • Non-tolled highways are becoming toll roads – Under state law, we cannot and will not convert non-tolled lanes to tolled lanes
  • Central Texans don’t want toll roads – toll road activity, including toll tag users, continues to increase

It’s important to remember the facts as we move forward with vital transportation funding discussions.

It wouldn’t be an annual report without numbers …

But we’re not just talking about our balance sheet; we’re talking about the reality that improving our quality of life through mobility options takes money.

User-based toll roads are just part of this equation, and based on our numbers, an increasingly popular choice: 49 percent of you believe that toll roads save you time, and 73 percent believe it’s important to have access to a variety of driving options – including toll roads. And, it’s a choice that keeps your investment local: All toll revenue from roads we operate is reinvested in our regional transportation.

We at the Mobility Authority share the frustrations of funding our roads. We are working to make funding a priority for our legislature, so that lawmakers comprehend that current appropriations are woefully inadequate. Until that happens, we have to use every available tool in our toolbox so that your quality of life isn’t compromised.

That’s what keeps us going – coming up with ways to keep you going. We’re problem solvers, and we’re passionate about the positive impact our mobility solutions have on each and every one of you.

But most importantly, we operate transparently and openly. In fact, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute cited the Mobility Authority as the standard for transparency and accountability by which other regional mobility authorities in Texas should strive to follow. In addition, TxDOT provided a risk assessment regarding our operations and our score was a healthy “A” almost entirely across the board.

In 2017, you told us that transportation has a high impact on your quality of life, and we promise you that the Mobility Authority is up to the challenge of helping solve transportation woes in this region.

We work for you. So let’s get moving!

 

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