A handful of unfunded transportation projects in the Greater Houston area may see new funding this year as money gets redirected to the State Highway Fund thanks to the passing of Proposition 1 last November.

Texas voters passed Prop 1 with 80 percent approval, authorizing the state to redirect half the money that normally goes to the Economic Stabilization Fund to the highway fund. A total of $1.7 billion was deposited for use in 2015. Roughly $278 million of that $1.7 billion has been dedicated to the Texas Department of Transportation's Houston region.

The Houston-Galveston Area Council has been working with TxDOT to identify priority projects in the Houston region. At a Feb. 3 public meeting, H-GAC officials presented 12 priority projects across Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Galveston and Brazoria counties.

Priority projects were broken down into three categories:

Major freeway reconstruction projects are the most costly. This category includes the $93 million widening of Hwy. 59 in Fort Bend County from west of Spur 10 to Darst Road and the $98 million widening of Hwy. 290 in Harris County from west of Bauer Road to FM 2920.

Seven projects—two each in Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend counties, as well as one in Galveston County—fall into the category of "interchange and other highway reconstruction." These projects range from the $26 million needed to add auxiliary lanes and widen bridges on Beltway 8 between I-45 North and Hwy. 59 North to the $2.2 million project to reconfigure the southbound entrance ramp to Allen Parkway from I-45 in downtown Houston.

The final three projects fall under "highway rehabilitation." This includes the base repair and overlay on FM 523 in Brazoria County and surface treatment on I-45 in Galveston County.

The 12 projects picked have all been on H-GAC's radar for considerable time and are viewed as some of the most critical when it comes to addressing connectivity or congestion issues, H-GAC program manager David Wurdlow said. Each project is already on H-GAC's long-range transportation plan, but few have had any funding sources identified.

"These are projects that are ready to go," Wurdlow said. "The designs are ready, the environmental reviews are mostly completed or nearing completion and they meet all the requirements for any project receiving Prop 1 funding."

A related bill—House Bill 1—outlined how Prop 1 funds can be used. It specifies that funds can only be used for the construction, maintenance, rehabilitation and acquisition of right-of-way for public roads. Funds cannot be used for toll roads.

Of the 12 projects, only two have funds already programmed. $20.7 million has been secured for the $28.2 million project to widen FM 2234 to four lanes between Fort Bend Parkway and FM 521 in Fort Bend County. One million has been raised for a $3.9 million Montgomery County project to do base repair and overlay on FM 3083 between Loop 336 North and FM 1485.

The remaining projects, including widening Hwy. 290 from Bauer Road to FM 2920, are completely unfunded at this point. The effort to widen Hwy. 290 has already been launched, but funding has only been secured for the portion from Loop 610 to the Grand Parkway, officials said.

H-GAC officials are taking public comments into consideration before making a formal recommendation to TxDOT specifying what projects to fund with Prop 1 money in 2015. Marco Bracamontes, manager of public outreach in H-GAC's transportation department, said they hope to approve recommendations by the end of February, at which point TxDOT can update its Unified Transportation Program.

H-GAC will continue to work with TxDOT on identifying projects to fund with Prop 1 funding in 2016 and beyond. Possible projects can come from a variety of sources, Wurdlow said, including local government proposals, public comments and projects listed on H-GAC's Transportation Improvement Program.

Learn more about Proposition 1 and each priority project by visiting H-GAC's website.