ODESSA, Tx. (KOSA) The Texas Transportation Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to provide an additional $2 billion in funding to improve Permian Basin roads.
The commission awarded the funding to the Odessa District of the Texas Department of Transportation.
Every year, the commission updates and improves the Unified Transportation Program, commonly referred to as the UTP. The UTP is TxDOT’s 10-year plan that guides the development of transportation projects.
With the Texas Transportation Commission approving $2 billion for transportation infrastructure, more than $5 billion total will be funneled into Permian Basin roads over the next 10 years. The funding will be doled out a year at a time for projects located in the Odessa TxDOT district that encompasses 12 counties.
“More money is being spent on Permian Basin highways than it has been before,” State Representative Brooks Landgraf said.
Rep. Landgraf added that the additional funding will make Permian Basin roads safer.
A 2017 TxDOT study found that 11% all traffic fatalities occurred in the Permian Basin, despite the area only having 2% of the state’s population.
“Great news! The Texas Transportation Commission approved $2 billion for priority projects in the Permian Basin to improve our transportation infrastructure. I’ve been proud to be a part of this fight for a while, a lot of West Texans have. This is going to make our roads safer, it’s going to save lives, and it’s going to help the Permian Basin continue to be the top oil and gas producer in the world. Very thankful for this big victory for West Texas today,” Rep. Landgraf said.
Rep. Landgraf said he believes the commissioners recognized the importance the Permian Basin plays in the state’s economy.
“There are jobs in high rises in Houston that depend on oil wells in Wink. And that important role that the Permian Basin plays is being threatened because we have critical infrastructure needs as it relates to our highways, as it relates to public safety,” he said.
Representative Landgraf said that virtually every highway in the Permian Basin isn’t wide enough to handle the traffic its experiencing, or it’s deteriorating.
But with the additional funding, roads like Interstate 20 in Ector County and Midland County will be upgraded.
Other roads that could potentially see improvements are Loop 338 in Odessa, Loop 250 in Midland, Highway 302 through Winkler County and Highway 18.
The funding will take effect in the 2020 fiscal year, which begins next week.