H-GAC: Call for transportation improvement projects to commence this fall

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The Houston-Galveston Area Council’s call for Transportation Improvement Program projects will begin during the third quarter of this year, officials said.

The call for projects, which updates H-GAC’s long-term transportation plan, is an opportunity for local governments and transportation agencies to compete for federal transportation project funding.

Alan Clark, H-GAC’s director of transportation planning, said this year’s update will be different than ones in previous years because of an additional $30 billion-$35 billion the Texas Department of Transportation budgeted in transportation investments for the next decade.

TxDOT’s additional funding, which is restricted to non-toll projects in the state roadway system—state highways, farm-to-market roadways, interstates and loops—will allow H-GAC to focus on more local roadways through the upcoming call for projects, Clark said.

“We’re loading up TxDOT’s plate with great projects all across our region, and this next call for projects will be more of an opportunity for facilities that are off the state system,” Clark said. “But we’ll still be talking about farm-to-market [roadways]and things like that because not all of those needs have been met with the supplemental funding from the state.”

For the first half of 2017, Clark said H-GAC’s Transportation Policy Council will focus on defining the criteria which will be used to evaluate and rank projects. In September, the council will initiate the call for projects, during which local governments and transportation agencies can submit their project applications until approximately summer 2018.

The Transportation Policy Council will then evaluate and incorporate projects into the 2045 RTP and 10-year plan. The deadline for federal approval will take place Sept. 11, 2019.

Clark said although he does not expect many large-scale freeway corridors to be requested during this call, he does anticipate an influx of high capacity transit project requests, which could include buses using HOV lanes, park and ride facilities or trains.

“I really don’t know what the geographic distribution will look like [for the projects requested]but all of our counties are growing—and most of them are growing very rapidly—so there are certainly transportation needs all across the eight counties that we will cover in this plan,” Clark said.

For an overview of the Transportation Improvement Program timeline, visit www.h-gac.com.

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Hannah Zedaker

Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a full-time reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. She covers business, transportation, health care and other local news, specializing in Shenandoah City Council and Montgomery County nonprofit organizations.

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