One of the big happenings for 2015 in Milam County will be the implementation of the projects financed by the road grants received last year. In 2014 the state set aside a big pot of money for county road repair.
The process that made the funding available was created by the State Legislature in 2007. Senate Bill 1266 created Transportation Reinvestment Zones (TRZ). In 2013 the legislature created County Energy TRZ’s with the passage of Senate Bill 1747. This bill was passed to specifically aid counties that had suffered damage to county roads from oil field traffic.
A County Energy Reinvestment Zone, or CERTZ, is a specific contiguous zone, in a county that is determined to be affected because of oil and gas exploration and production activities, around a planned transportation project that is established as a method to facilitate capture of the property tax increment arising from the planned project. In laymen’s terms that means it’s an area that will benefit from the road project and as a result any tax increase in that area will be committed to transportation projects in that area for the next ten years.
I have been hearing a lot of comments on the roads that will be paved and other great things that will happen as a result of the two million plus dollars we will be receiving from the state grant. Truth is, according to the Commissioners, not going to be all that much paving going on. Lots of gravel and culvert and bridge repair on existing roads but not a lot of paving.
As a matter of fact the State of Texas is planning on converting some Farm to Market roads to gravel due to the cost of repairing and maintaining paved roads. Texas is not the only state to pursue this option. As the cost of constructing and maintaining paved roads increases many other states including North and South Dakota, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan are reverting to gravel roads. There are also numerous counties across the country that are looking at reverting to gravel.
Bottom line is providing transportation for our growing population is going to become more and more expensive. More taxes you say? You can only go to the well so many times before its dry. One paved to gravel article had a comment on the growing move toward gravel replacing pavement that said, "...they used to slide in here at 70, now I guess it'll be 30." Maybe it is time we all slowed down a bit, especially on taxes.