in Houston, Texas

Interactive map shows where TxDOT will spend stimulus funds

Monday, Apr 13, 2009, 09:18AM CST
By Jennifer Peebles
orangebarrelcloseupYou won’t see Interstate 69 – planned to run from Mexico to Canada -- mentioned anywhere on the list of projects that the state transportation commission has approved for federal stimulus money.

But $100 million of the stimulus will help lay the groundwork in rural south Texas for possible construction of the north-south route some have called the “NAFTA Superhighway.”

That's one of the interesting finds from Texas Watchdog's analysis of stimulus spending approved by the state transportation agency. Texas Watchdog is publishing an interactive map today showing per-person stimulus spending in each of Texas' 254 counties and detailing each county's largest TxDOT-approved stimulus project. The map is complemented by a searchable database that lists every TxDOT-approved stimulus project in every county, including new construction, maintenance of existing roads, and off-road "enhancements" like bike trails.

TxDOT has approved $77.9 million for improvements to the main highway in rural Brooks County, U.S. 281, to bring it up to interstate grade – something that not only will help with the extra traffic, but also will help it potentially be used as part of the I-69 corridor.

Just north of Brooks County, $13 million will to go to build an overpass on U.S. 281 in the tiny town of Ben Bolt. And another $21.6 of stimulus money will go toward improvements on U.S. 281 and U.S. 59 in Live Oak County.

With a population of about 8,000 folks, Brooks County is rural. It’s about 90 minutes’ drive west of Laredo, about 80 minutes east of Corpus Christi and about 75 minutes north of McAllen on the border.

Its county seat of Falfurrias, population 5,300, was once Texas’ unofficial butter capital. And the sheriff's department, which has eight deputies, ran out of money last month and had to get a loan from the county to meet payroll.

But with the stimulus money, it’s coming out ahead of the game. Brooks County is on track to get more federal stimulus money from TxDOT per resident than any other county in Texas, according to a Texas Watchdog analysis of stimulus data. (To see how much your county is getting in stimulus projects from TxDOT, click here to see our interactive county map, and click here to search our database listing all the TxDOT stimulus projects in every county.)

The $77.9 million U.S. 281 project works out to $9,766 for every man, woman and child in Brooks County.

“We’re the toast of Texas,” said Brooks County Judge Raul Ramirez. He doesn’t mean to brag, he said, but he can’t hide that he’s ecstatic that the long-awaited project, including a handful of new overpasses, will soon be reality.

(Click here or on the map below to see it in an interactive format.)

stimulus6percapitalowrez

The work on U.S. 281 in Live Oak County, which includes reworking a spot where the road now crosses railroad tracks at ground level –- reworking it so that one will cross the other on an overpass –- is a $21.6 million project that works out to $1,754.80 for every person in the county, Texas Watchdog found.

Up in the Panhandle, far from the proposed route of I-69, rural Armstrong County also came out pretty well in TxDOT stimulus funding. The state Transportation Commission has approved an $11.7 million maintenance project to repair a 9-mile stretch of U.S. 287 just southeast of Amarillo. For a county with just 2,148 residents, that math comes out to more than $5,400 per person.

By comparison, the state’s most populous county, Harris, has been approved for $300 million in TxDOT stimulus. That’s $88 per person.


Continued on page 2: South Texas leaders' push for road funding finally pays off

Orange barrel photograph by Texas Watchdog Deputy Editor Jennifer Peebles.

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Comments
Peter Wang
Tuesday, 04/14/2009 - 11:15AM

Rosanna, why don't you investigate how the landowners in the Grand Parkway Segment E footprint are connected to the County Commissioners? That would be eye-opening, I am certain.

Jennifer Peebles
Tuesday, 04/14/2009 - 01:45PM

Mr. Wang,

Welcome to our site! We appreciate you reading and posting. And we're definitely interested to know more about Grand Parkway Segment E. Any and all leads and tips are appreciated. :)

For those of you who are reading this who aren't in Houston, Grand Parkway Segment E is the largest TxDOT-approved stimulus project in Harris County; it's getting $181 million in stimulus money. It's a toll road that would connect the Katy Freeway [Interstate 10, west of downtown Houston] to the Northwest Freeway [U.S. 290, northwest of downtown]. You'll see it listed in our searchable database by the shorthand of SH99.

Take care,

Jennifer Peebles

jennifer@texaswatchdog.org

Gary
Tuesday, 04/14/2009 - 06:38PM

Greetings from Oklahoma City, where our traitorous mayor, Mick Cornett got caught backing the SPP and the NAFTA Superhighway's proposed passage through our city. He says he "didn't know what he was getting himself into." Yeah, right. He just blundered into an SPP meeting, thinking it was the Rotary Club. ;)

I've been watching what's happening in your neck of the woods with great interest, as it's not only going to affect my state, but the whole country, eventually - if we let it. Which leads me to caution you not to vote in another Bilderberger as your governor, like you did last time.

Jennifer Peebles
Tuesday, 04/14/2009 - 10:37PM

Gary,

I think you're our first commenter ever from the Sooner State. Welcome to our site, and thank you for reading us!

Take care,

Jennifer P.

jennifer@texaswatchdog.org

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