May 29, 2024 - TRA Austin Newswire -

At the Texas Transportation Commission meeting in Austin on Thursday,  Commissioners heard an update to the Fiscal Year 2026-2027 Legislative Appropriations Request, which is the amount of funding TxDOT will request from the upcoming Texas Legislature.

The Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) draft that was presented include approximately $1.6 billion in exceptional items that do not fall within the 98% of revenues received for TxDOT that are dedicated by law only to be used for highways.

These items include $200 million for rail support and development, $1.24 billion for maritime investment, $114 million for aviation maintenance and improvement, and $29 million for public transit programming.

Three draft exceptional items target potential rail improvements:

  • $175 million would be directed toward local rail grade crossing separations
  • $25 million would be directed toward short line railroads
  • $2,126,250 would go toward support of the Heartland Flyer, a partnership arrangement of TxDOT and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation

More components and updates to the 2026-27 Legislative Appropriations Request will be presented at the July and August Commission meetings.

Speaking in favor of the three LAR out-of-normal-budget rail priorities, Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody said "our organization is pleased to see the three exceptional items for rail in the LAR draft and, if the legislature concurs, it will allow Texas to leverage competitive federal rail grant programs, potentially covering up to 80% of project costs."

"The exceptional item to eliminate dangerous at-grade rail crossings and help highway traffic move is to be commended as well as a helping hand for short line railroads that serve hundreds of shippers in their local communities," according to LeCody.

The draft LAR capital budget totals $982.4 million for purposes including information technology, building construction and rehabilitation and acquisition of capital equipment and items. 

The Commissioners also heard an update about the 2025 Unified Transportation Program (UTP), which will propose a historic $104.2 billion in total funding estimates. TxDOT Transportation Planning and Programming Director Humberto Gonzalez, Jr. presented the 10-year transportation development guide

TxDOT will hold a virtual public meeting at 2 p.m. CDT on July 2 to learn about the draft 2025 UTP. The public is invited to offer public comments on how badly we need intercity and regional passenger rail expanded and also how freight rail can take more trucks off our crowded roads July 5 through Aug. 5.

To learn more about different ways to comment, visit the UTP Public Involvement webpage.

The Texas Transportation Commission approves the UTP annually in accordance with Texas state law at its August commission meeting and publishes the approved UTP on

The Commission awarded nearly $84 million in state and Federal Transit Administration program funds for public transportation programs across the state. The grants will go to 35 rural bus transit district programs, 23 small urban area programs and nine large urban area programs.

This funding will help transit agencies improve facilities and upgrade vehicles, and in some cases will assist in the expansion of services. 

The Commission approved 382 grants worth $103.4 million for the Highway Safety Plan, which goes toward education and enforcement to help reduce crashes on Texas roads. Funded safety programs include educational campaigns for anti-impaired driving, speed control, seat belt wearing, pedestrian and bike safety, work zone awareness and motorcycle safety. The funding is an increase of $7.5 million from last year. 

The Commission awarded $28.7 million in grant funding to 17 airport projects. The awards include federal non-primary entitlement, federal apportionment, Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act and state grant funding.

Photo credit: TxDOT Transportation Commission