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Texas Transportation Forum A Chance For Inter-City Collaboration/Competition

Chris Eudaily
TPR News
Traffic flows northbound on Hwy 281 at Nakoma.

Just before the ninth-annual Texas Transportation Forum got underway in San Antonio, leaders announced a $800 million investment in the city that will expand portions of Hwy 281, Loop 1604 and I-10. The move makes way for toll lanes on portions of the roadways, but there will continue to be free lanes.

San Antonio District 6 Councilman Ray Lopez said the forum is a chance to get ideas from other entities on how they are moving people.

"The problem becomes, how do you find funding? How do you become a multi-agency, multi-governance, take a multi-governance approach to funding these projects, because they're so huge," he said.  "No one agency by itself has the ability to fund any one project. They're just so massive and huge."

Fort Worth is dealing with its own expansion issues. The city's name is often linked with Dallas, but Rebecca Young Montgomery, the assistant vice president of governmental relations for the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, said its obstacles and goals are independent from the city's big brother to the east.

One example, she said, is that Fort Worth is sprawling and Dallas is concise.

"Just like San Antonio, we want to learn from other communities that are already doing things," Montgomery said. "We're growing and we think other communities have done some things we can learn from. Let's collaborate. We all want to move more people as everyone keeps saying."

Collaboration is only part of the puzzle as transportation leaders figure out how to build systems. How they will pay for them is another part that may not be as friendly.

Lopez said the forum is an opportunity to exchange ideas, but there's also the competition component.

"I can also tell you that we're all vying for the same TxDOT dollars, or for the same commission dollars, so hopefully they've been put on notice that San Antonio is at the table, and we're going to be aggressive," he said.

Speakers at this year's forum include a host of TxDOT commissioners and leaders, and a keynote address by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.