Crews break ground on $500M San Antonio highway expansion
- With Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in attendance, crews officially broke ground on a $500 million expansion of U.S. 281 through San Antonio, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
- Work on the highway, billed as one of the most congested in the state, will take five years and will be completed in two phases. When complete, the non-tolled highway will have six primary lanes and six frontage lanes with pedestrian and bicycle accommodations.
- Some local officials, while in favor of reducing congestion, bemoaned the choice to spend $500 million on a traditional highway project without exploring mass transit or other transportation options.
While local officials have to accept the massive project that will attempt to relieve congestion on the San Antonio highway, the state isn't stopping there. Late last month, the Texas Transportation Commission announced that it would spend $8.9 billion on 230 highway projects statewide, with Houston-area projects winning $3 billion of that outlay.
State officials warned, however, that some of that money could be in jeopardy if state lawmakers decided to make certain budget cuts or if the federal government made funding policy changes, which will likely happen if President Donald Trump's 2018 budget goes through as currently proposed.
The Trump administration has voiced support of new, mass transportation initiatives but wants to eliminate the Federal Transit Administration capital investment program that funds most of those projects. However, earlier this year, Trump staffers floated a list of 50 high-priority projects — including some mass transit initiatives — that could potentially be included in his yet-to-be-introduced infrastructure program.
Some reports claimed that Trump could table infrastructure until 2018 or 2019 in order to focus on other agenda items, but the administration's failure to make good on its promise to repeal and place the Affordable Care Act leaves it without a solid policy win thus far. Infrastructure is largely a bipartisan issue, so Trump has indicated he might introduce an infratructure spending bill along with tax reform in the coming weeks.
- San Antonio Express-News Work begins on widening U.S. 281, most congested highway in San Antonio
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