The House Committee on Transportation and the Senate Committee on Transportation released their interim reports (House Report | Senate Report) on several issues important to counties. These include disaster preparedness with respect to the transportation system and transportation infrastructure.
The consistent theme throughout both committees’ recommendations is an emphasis on working with counties to coordinate efforts and to allow greater county authority to achieve the common goals.
During four hearings held throughout last year, the House Committee on Transportation heard from county officials and county representatives on its list of charges. It concluded that counties should be authorized to designate constables or deputy constables as weight enforcement officers on state and county roads where applicable.
It also recommended that counties should work with city and county emergency management information systems during a disaster to ensure that information is shared regarding road conditions and closures.
These two recommendations support the requests of county officials on the front lines dealing with the challenges created by overweight trucks and natural disasters.
Other House committee recommendations include allowing the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and county and regional toll authorities to enter into comprehensive development agreements for projects that are not included in TxDOT's Uniform Transportation Program.
These projects are only eligible if they have been approved by a vote of the designated elected local governmental entity or entities, or by a local referendum in the area(s) through which the highway will be built or expanded.
The Senate Committee on Transportation focused on the impact of Hurricane Harvey, which fueled a discussion of how to employ better strategies that may, individually or in combination with other efforts, significantly reduce flood risk.
More directly, the committee wants to make sure that transportation infrastructure rebuilt in the wake of Harvey is constructed with an aim to help prevent flooding during future similar events. Some possible solutions include elevation of existing or proposed roadways, which appears to be the most cost-effective, and increasing storm water detention and drainage capacity on high flood risk roadway segments.