TxDOT Confirms that “Turnback Program” Will be Voluntary
Previous editions of the Legislative Update have reported on the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) “Turnback Program.” The program originated with a letter sent to larger cities informing them that TxDOT intended to consider transferring all maintenance of certain non-controlled-access state highways to those cities.
What was originally perceived as a unilateral, unfunded mandate on cities has become a cooperative effort between cities and TxDOT to address the state’s highway funding needs. A select committee of city officials – appointed by Texas Municipal League President Jungus Jordan – met with TxDOT officials on January 6. At that meeting, TxDOT gave repeated assurances that the program is meant to be voluntary. The committee will continue to meet with TxDOT officials to develop written best practices for cities that voluntarily choose to take over control of certain state highways, as well as written confirmation of the program’s voluntary nature.
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 study possible local-option funding sources that will assist cities in maintaining “turned back” highways in their city.