Local News

Jan 22, 2014 7:41 PM

County Finds New Way to Fix Streets

CORPUS CHRISTI - Crumbling roads are a big part of life here in Corpus Christi but they aren't limited to just the city.

So now county officials are working on a plan to repair dozens of roads without asking you to pay a dime.

It's called a "County Transportation Energy Reinvestment Zone" (CTERZ) - and it encompasses our refinery row area and another small patch of real estate near Calallen.

County officials hope it will draw down millions of dollars in state funding to repair some of our hardest-hit roads. and the good news? It's coming mostly from oil and gas revenue taxes, not a street-user fee.

Much is made of the city's street problems.

But county roads also need help, especially around refinery row. .

It's the part of town where heavy trucks, most of them heading into or out of a refinery, pummel the roads.

It's a maintenance challenge with an estimated price tag of about $25 million and that's just to fix the worst roads.

And that, in a county where the road repair budget is a paltry $3 million.

Now, the county has found a way to use state funding for local road repairs.

The money comes from the state - about $225 million - and it was passed by lawmakers last session to help Eagle Ford counties repair their stricken roads.

But, thanks to the way the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) implemented the rules, we have access to that money, down here.

Even Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal said he missed the point at first.

"Were it not for some really great staff work here we might've missed this opportunity," Neal told KRIS-6 today. "Because I had not picked up that TXDOT had come back and said 'Whoa, we're opening this up for everybody.'"

The bottom line?

By kicking in about $100,000, Nueces County will, in round one of the funding, get about $560,000 from TXDOT for projects that could start as early as this year.

That tax revenue generated by the new zone - the calculation is pretty complex - can be sent to the state under the grant program.

The state then matches it, opening up potentially tens of millions in state funding for local road repairs.

And that leaves county commissioners with a good problem - finding a way to spend county road repair set aside in the county's general fund budget, somewhere else.

"We could reallocate it to roads we could use it to supplement the jail which is always a cost, health care is always a cost," Neal said.

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