Funding choices that offer a jump start.
How can we address the challenge of the wide gap between existing state and federal funding and the monies needed now to get the El Paso Mobility Projects up and running? A team consisting of local officials, the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority, the City of El Paso and the Texas Department of Transportation are exploring an array of innovative new financing choices. These options offer a number of advantages over traditional gasoline tax funding. They bring decisions to the local level about which projects to quickly advance, increase competition to drive down project costs and give consumers a choice.
The good news for motorists: traffic relief comes sooner, and delays caused by construction will be sharply reduced.
Transportation Reinvestment Zone (TRZ) – A TRZ is an option for generating dedicated revenue for the development of multiple transportation projects in a region. The City of El Paso has created the state's first TRZ. Within the zone, as property values increase, any increased tax revenues will be dedicated to mobility projects.
Pass-Through Financing – This choice has allowed the construction of Spur 601 to begin, without the delay of waiting for state or federal tax funding. Pass-through financing permits local governments or private entities to provide upfront financing for construction costs, then the state partially reimburses the costs over time by paying a fee for each vehicle that uses the road. The benefits include faster start-up for projects and swifter completion.
Stimulus Funding – TxDOT has been working with local planning officials to identify projects eligible for funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, often referred to as the economic stimulus bill. With this funding, construction will begin in 2010 on new highway connector ramps at the I-10/Loop 375 interchange.
Proposition 12 (General Obligation Bond Projects) – El Paso drivers will soon reap the benefits of the Proposition 12 bond referendum that Texas voters first approved in 2007. In July 2009, the Texas Legislature authorized the spending of $2 billion in Prop 12 bond proceeds on non-toll transportation projects. Working collaboratively with local transportation officials across the state, TxDOT developed a list of priority projects for the funding aimed at increasing safety, expanding highway corridors and reducing traffic congestion.
In November 2009, the Texas Transportation Commission approved a list of Prop 12 projects, including a four-mile, $80 million expansion of Loop 375, doubling capacity of a route which serves as an alternative to Interstate 10 and supplementing access to the U.S. Army's Fort Bliss.
State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) – The SIB program, administered by TxDOT, allows public or private borrowers to access funds for eligible transportation projects at lower-than-market interest rates. The SIB operates as a revolving loan fund, where the account balance grows through the monthly interest earned and repaid principal and interest payments. To be eligible for funding, projects are normally required to be on the state's highway system and included in the statewide Transportation Improvement Plan.
Express Toll Lanes & New Toll Roads – These options work in tandem with our existing, tax-supported roads to create a system that includes more routes and added capacity on existing routes. More routes mean less congestion. Express toll lanes are simply added alongside existing highways, and new toll roads are developed to complement existing freeways. Drivers who prefer not to use the toll choices can always continue to use non-tolled options.
Funds for toll construction are borrowed upfront and then repaid by the revenue generated from the motorists who use them. This allows miles of toll roads to be finished faster than waiting for highways funded by gas taxes.
Besides saving commuters time, toll lanes and toll roads save motorists from paying additional taxes by creating revenue for highway maintenance and new projects.