Posted on January 3, 2019
The Texas Department of Transportation was recently awarded $50 million in federal grants to pay for critical improvements needed to address safety and connectivity in the Permian Basin.
The TxDOT Odessa District received two Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grants from USDOT to support road projects in Winkler, Glasscock and Reagan counties, a TxDOT news release stated.
The $25 million grant funding the Winkler County project will include replacing an existing four-way stop with an overpass at SH 302 and SH 115, including over the railroad, in Kermit.
The $25 million grant funding the Glasscock and Reagan County improvements will include replacing an existing four-way stop with an overpass at SH 158 and SH 137, west of Garden City.
“Our rural communities depend on roads like SH 158 and SH 137 to keep us connected,” Congressman Mike Conaway said. “Critical infrastructure improvements are especially necessary as the Permian Basin’s energy sector continues to boom, making these roads busier than before.”
The continued increase in energy activity is creating significant damage to roads from water, sand, equipment and big trucks, creating a safety issue for all drivers in those areas, the release stated. As such, TXDOT announced an historic investment throughout the Permian Basin during the next 10 years through its unified Transportation Program. The UTP includes plans for more than 1,700 miles of improvements to strengthen pavements, add shoulders and add lanes for passing and travel, the release detailed.
“Thirty percent of our national oil and gas production occurs in the Permian Basin and production is expected to double in the next five years,” said Chairman J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. “Texas is leading the nation in energy production and our diverse team of partners are working together to address safety and congestion throughout Texas’ energy sector.”
Funds will also be used to address safety. While just 2 percent of Texans live in the Permian Basin, 10 percent of all traffic fatalities take place there, the release stated. Since 2010, the Basin has seen a 46.3 percentage increase in fatalities.
“Safety is our top priority and we appreciate the assistance from our federal partners to address a booming area that not only benefits the citizens of Texas, but the nation as a whole,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass.
Conaway, Congressman Will Hurd and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, along with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, helped secure the funds for the projects, Bugg said.
“With more people coming to Texas each day, we must ensure our infrastructure can meet increasing demands,” Cornyn said. “I’m proud to have supported these grant applications, and I’m grateful to the Trump administration for supporting Texas infrastructure.”
Hurd said the Permian Basin’s energy sector employs 444,000 people, fuels 10 percent of the state’s economy and produces thirty percent of the nation’s oil and gas and with production expected to double in the next five years, safer, more reliable roadways are imperative.
“This is a wonderful achievement for our TXDOT district,” said Don Evans, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and representative of the Permian Strategic Partnership. “The PSP leaders worked closely with the Texas and U.S. Departments of Transportation to highlight the need for additional investment in the infrastructure for Permian roads. The safety, quality and capacity of our Permian Basin roadway infrastructure is a top priority for local residents and businesses, and a key enabler of our country’s strategic energy objectives.”