TML Committee to Address Voluntary Highway “Turnback”
Yesterday, Texas Municipal League President Jungus Jordan announced the formation of a select committee to recommend best practices for cities that voluntarily choose to take over control of certain state highways within their limits.
Informally known as the TxDOT “Turnback Program,” the idea – as it was presented this past summer – was initially thought by cities to be an unfunded mandate in excess of $165 million in forced maintenance duties per year. After discussions with TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson and TxDOT commissioners, it was agreed that the program would be strictly voluntary for those cities that wish to participate, and that no city would be forced to accept the “turnback” of any state highway if the city didn’t wish for it to occur.
It is believed that the number of cities actively willing to convert certain state highways into city streets may be large enough to benefit both TxDOT’s budget and some cities’ desire to exercise more control over thoroughfares within their boundaries.
Accordingly, the League’s new committee will meet with TxDOT staff to set parameters for how cities should apply to TxDOT to obtain control over such roads. Mr. Wilson has pledged to work closely with the League to make such transfers as seamless as possible and beneficial to both the state and cities that choose to participate. Some issues expected to be addressed by the committee include timeframes for voluntary turnback, how to address newly turn-backed streets that straddle multiple jurisdictions, the desired maintenance condition of a road before TxDOT relinquishes control, and many other related issues.
In addition to developing best practices for voluntary “turnbacks,” the committee will begin to study possible local-option funding sources that will assist cities in maintaining road projects in their city and funding new transportation capacity. Recommendations of the committee on any new revenue sources will go forward to the League’s Legislative Policy Committee on Transportation that will meet in 2014 to prepare for the 2015 legislative session.
The appointees to the new committee – called the “Joint TML/TxDot Working Group on Best Practices and Dedicated Funding Source for the Voluntary Turnback Program” – are as follows:
Jungus Jordan, TML President and Councilmember, Fort Worth
Nelda Martinez, TML President-Elect and Mayor, Corpus Christi
Kathryn Wilemon, Mayor Pro Tem, Arlington
Lucy Johnson, Mayor, Kyle
Allen Barnes, City Manager, Gonzales
Billy Clemons, City Manager, Lorena
Bobby Rountree, City Manager, Brownwood
C.J. Wax, Mayor, Rockport
Carl Law, Mayor, Burkburnett
Courtney Sharp, City Manager, Midland
Freddie Taylor, Mayor Pro Tem, Sulphur Springs
Greg Ingham, City Manager, Plainview
Harish Jajoo, Councilmember, Sugar Land
Jim Darling, Mayor, McAllen
Laura Maczka, Mayor, Richardson
Mike Slye, City Manager, Trophy Club
Paul Harpole, Mayor, Amarillo
Roger Van Horn, Mayor, Nacogdoches
Victor Gonzales, Councilmember, Pflugerville
(Note: TxDOT appointees will be announced shortly.)
City officials with questions about the voluntary Turnback Program or the new TML committee should contact TML Executive Director Bennett Sandlin at Bennett@tml.org or 512-231-7400.