TxDOT ‘falls short’ on road funds; spends $20 million on Dallas park

| 4/18/2008

A so-called funding shortfall for transportation projects in Texas hasn’t stopped TxDOT from spending $20 million on a park project in Dallas.

The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation announced Monday, April 14, that it had secured $20 million from the Texas Department of Transportation – an agency funded chiefly through state and federal taxes on motor fuels – for the 5.2-acre park.

Foundation officials stated in a press release that the park was a “public-private partnership” with $20 million donated by the city of Dallas, $20 million from TxDOT and the remainder from the private sector. The total cost of the park, including a restaurant and a dog park, is $100 million.

Watchdog groups are speaking out against TxDOT funds being used on projects unrelated to transportation. TxDOT officials routinely tell the media that the agency is strapped for funding on projects, including a major project to widen Interstate 35.

“TxDOT claims they have run out of money for public highways while they give $20 million gifts to special interests to build a park,” Sal Costello, founder of the People for Efficient Transportation PAC and its Web site www.texastollparty.com, told Land Line.

“Why does TxDOT continue to divert billions of dollars that they claim not to have into shifting our public highways to tollways?”

TxDOT officials maintain a Web site that includes a list of new roadways they say cannot be built without tolling and help from the private sector and/or regional tolling authorities. Click here to view the list.

“Over the years, the gas tax has not increased, but traffic on Texas highways has – dramatically,” TxDOT officials state on the site. “That means the current gas tax revenue falls short of statewide transportation needs, making it no longer sufficient to handle the state’s mobility challenges.”

Costello and others continue to question why TxDOT is funding a park project while officials say the state’s transportation budget lacks funding.

– By David Tanner, staff writer