The board of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is running out of time to take advantage of about $126 million that has just become available for regional transportation projects, but board members just found out March 19 that the clock was even ticking.
Officials from the Texas Department of Transportation, which has $2 billion to allocate statewide, said they want the funds obligated by the end of the fiscal year, which closes Sept. 30. According to CAMPO staff, that would mean potential projects would need to be selected by March 31, with the policy board making a final vote on which projects to fund at its June meeting.
TxDOT notified CAMPO Director Maureen McCoy on Feb. 23 about the funds but did not unveil a concrete amount for the Central Texas region nor restrictions on what types of projects could be selected. A March 19 conference call did little to answer questions, McCoy said at the CAMPO policy board meeting March 19.
“We still haven’t seen anything official, anything in writing,” she said.
Much of TxDOT's $2 billion is on the table due to bids for other construction projects that came in cheaper than expected, among other cost savings, and TxDOT’s expectation of a larger than anticipated allocation from the federal government. Of the approximately $126 million, $50 million is from the Federal Transportation Authority.
Asked if the board could simply fund some projects that did not make the cut during the last round of federal allocations in fall 2011, McCoy said she did not know and that it would depend on the CAMPO board, which is composed of elected officials from the five-county Central Texas region.
“It’s a good problem to have, in a way,” McCoy said. “But still, the timing is tight.”
McCoy said CAMPO has been encouraged by TxDOT to select projects that involved strategic partnerships, focused on congestion relief and addressed safety concerns or connectivity issues.