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Posted on: November 16, 2021

City Corner Column: Understanding the differences between state and local street projects

Julie_Fulgham

You may have heard that some road projects in Victoria are City projects and some are TxDOT projects. But what does this mean?

The Texas Department of Transportation manages all projects on state highways that pass through Victoria. This arrangement helps us as well as them because TxDOT can ensure that the rules governing these highways are applied consistently, regardless of whether TxDOT is working on U.S. 77 in Victoria, Hallettsville or Waco.

TxDOT projects are funded by the state, not the City. This is important to understand when discussing budgets. TxDOT funds cannot be used to repair local roads, nor is City funding used for highway projects. The only rare exception is when the City is required to provide partial funding as part of a competitive grant process. The only recent example of this is the sidewalk fill-in project on Business 59 between Laurent and Ben Wilson streets.

TxDOT gets local input on its Victoria projects through the Metropolitan Planning Organization, an advisory board that includes representatives of the City, the County, TxDOT, the Port of Victoria and the Victoria Regional Airport. TxDOT’s relationship with MPOs varies between jurisdictions. Because we are a smaller jurisdiction, TxDOT tends to take more of a leading role in managing highway projects.

The MPO is allotted a set amount of funding, called Category 2 funding, that it can use for state (not local) projects of its choosing. The MPO can request additional projects, but there is no guarantee that these will be chosen. Regardless of the MPO’s role, if the project is on a highway, it will be managed and funded by the state. More about this funding and the planning process can be found in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP).

TxDOT and the MPO work together on the MTP, a document that outlines transportation goals within Victoria County. The MTP is a 25-year plan that gets updated every five years; you may remember when the MPO approved the 2045 MTP last year. The MPO solicits input from the community and from key stakeholders such as schools and first responder agencies to identify projects that the MPO wants TxDOT to pursue.

The upcoming median on Business 59 is one project that was highlighted in the 2045 MTP. Even though medians can feel like an inconvenience, they are a big help in improving safety: After the median was installed on Navarro Street north of the Loop, crashes decreased by about 40% within three years, according to statistics provided by TxDOT.

This benefit of medians is so well recognized that the Business 59 project was eligible for state safety funds that are earmarked specifically for projects that prevent serious wrecks. Because of this, TxDOT was able to start working on it sooner than expected, and the Category 2 funds that would have been used can now be put toward other projects listed in the MTP. 

We want to help residents better understand how TxDOT and the MPO are working to improve transportation in Victoria. If you have a question about a project on a local roadway, contact Engineering at 361-485-3340 or tjarisch@victoriatx.gov. If you have a question about a state project, visit www.txdot.gov and click on “Contact Us.” For more information about the MPO and the 2045 MTP, contact Development Services at 361-485-3360 or mbergeron@victoriatx.gov.  

The City of Victoria shares information about local road closures as well as available updates from TxDOT. To sign up for email or text alerts, visit https://www.victoriatx.gov/list.aspx

Julie Fulgham is the director of Development Services for the City of Victoria.

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