HOW IT WORKS: How does the state of Texas measure its future roadway needs?


The method the Texas Department of Transportation uses to decide on future road projects is based on dozens of factors, according to its manual for development, a state and federally mandated series of documents that are continually updated.

The process of obtaining data is the same, but handled differently by the Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metro areas. In Austin, TxDOT and the metropolitan planning organization compile the information.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments works with TxDOT to produce the Dallas-Fort Worth Travel Model. The Houston-Galveston Area Council does the same modeling work with TxDOT for the Houston area.

In addition, traffic analysis zones, districts and sectors are formed by the metropolitan planning organizations throughout the state and TxDOT. There are 26 districts throughout the state with populations that exceed 200,000 that use data from studies, surveys and devices including automatic traffic recorders to update the plan for road development.

The collected data is then used to update the needs throughout the state based on the yearly growth.

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  1. traffic turtle

    Whichever method or model being used for the Austin metro is obviously not working. I’ve been living in south Austin for 35 years and have been through the growing pains of the metro. It doesn’t take a genius to know the transportation needs of the growing area are not being met. Through the years there is constant talk of this or that company relocating to Austin, which in turn brings construction of new subdivisions, which in turn brings construction of new schools, and in turn brings construction of new commercial developments. All this new construction should not be a surprise because it must be approved by city and or county officials. Yet, once all the construction is completed and the population has grown, THEN the powers to be say “Hmmm, we probably need to do a study to see if we need new roads.” Hello McFly, you knew way back when that the population was going to explode because of all the approved construction 5, 10, 20+ years ago! US 183 express should have been DONE 15 yrs ago. SH45W should have been DONE 15 yrs ago. Loop 360 should have been an expressway 15 yrs ago! Yes I-35 needs A LOT of improvements but other roads should be improved or built to remove a lot of the local traffic from it. I-35 is an interstate highway and should NOT be the only travel route for the locals. I’m so amazed that Austin, being the state’s capital does not have a loop (a complete loop!) as does Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and even El Paso!
    Get your head out of the sand!

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Joe Warner
Joe Warner is managing editor of the nine Austin-Central Texas editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.
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