Since 2003, MOTRAN has been sounding the alarm regarding the transportation funding disparity experienced by the Permian Basin. At that time, we came to realize that if the Odessa District was funded at the median level of other surrounding districts, based on average daily traffic counts or lane miles, the construction and maintenance budgets here in the Odessa District would be doubled.
During the last few years we and our partner communities have worked to bridge that gap as best we could, going to the Transportation Commission and local elected officials to obtain nearly $100 million in Commission Strategic Funds, Bond, Demonstration Project Funds, and other local funds.
Those funds have helped us continue to keep our infrastructure up to par, even as Ector and Midland Counties added nearly 25,000 in population over the last five years. That's why MOTRAN has been such a valuable partner in the growth of our communities, and I want you to understand why that same goal is so important going forward.
In 2009, Ector and Midland County residents paid approximately $65 million in state and federal motor fuel taxes. After diversions of state and federal funds, that leaves roughly $45 million available for highway funding and maintenance purposes. Conservative estimates for the period from 2008 to 2014 indicate we will have generated over $317 million in fuel taxes, after diversions , and yet, less than $121 million will be spent here, most of which was one-time stimulus or bond funding.
$14.3 Million Annual Vehicle Registration Collections for State Purposes Alone in Midland and Ector Counties
Our rate of return on fuel taxes, eligible for highway purposes alone, including the federal stimulus and one-time bond funds, is less than 40%. Our rate of return on state gas tax dollars, even with bond funds is only 9%, and that doesn't even count the additional $14 million we generate in vehicle registration fees for state transportation purposes.
In conjunction with our member entities, we are doubling our efforts to try and address this issue. While some officials will argue that larger population centers warrant five or six times more funding than they generate to reduce congestion, we feel that this type of "Robin Hood" transportation finance does not take into account the safety, growth, and economic development needs we have here at home.
The growth rate of Ector and Midland Counties over the last five years has been higher than the state average and this past year we have experienced the highest number of roadway fatalities in recent memory. Every dollar we generate that is redistributed to worthwhile projects in other areas of this state diminishes our economic competitiveness in the future.
We realize this is no easy battle, but we think the future of the Permian Basin is worth fighting for.
Closer To Home
MOTRAN is also working to develop SH 349 from Midland to Lamesa. This project came about after the study of extending I-27 from Lubbock to I-10. In his analysis of this project, Dr. Ray Perryman projected over $4.5 billion in economic impact throughout the corridor from Amarillo through Lubbock to Midland-Odessa.
Since that time, traffic counts on this roadway have increased over 40% and the road condition has deteriorated dramatically. Unfortunately, there have also been numerous deaths on this stretch of roadway, due to lack of improvements.
In our ongoing efforts, MOTRAN has launched a new website, www.fix349.com to allow citizens to show their support for this important project and obtain progress updates on this vital project.