The Orange Leader
ORANGE — Commissioner Court became more informed on Monday.
Community Development Education Foundation Chairman/CEO Duane Gordy gave an informational speech about what implementing a Regional Mobility Authority (RMA) and what it could mean for Orange County.
A public hearing at 1 p.m. Monday explained the shortage of funding for TxDOT which means there is $0 funds or new roads in 2013.
A RMA is a local, independent transportation agency that can finance, build, operate and maintain toll roads and other transportation projects. The Texas Legislature authorized the creation of RMAs in 2001 to provide a new, more flexible way to address local transportation needs and get projects developed more quickly than through traditional funding.
Individual counties can form a RMA, or multiple counties can come together to create a single RMA entity.
There are eight RMAs in Texas to date.
“Projects slated for 5-6 years down the line are now being pushed back to 15-18 years out,” Gordy said.
Gordy also said under the current system $1.4 - $1.6 billion a year is being generate for a $10 billion a year need to maintain the current flow of transportation.
The current fuel tax is not indexed (for inflation) and based on the number of gallons consumed. Car manufacturers are set with a 2025 target of a 54.5 mpg fleetwide average. That includes a 5 percent mpg increase every year from 2017 to 2025. This also means 45% less funds will be raised by the fuel tax than today.
RMAs were created by legislation using TxDOT as an administrative role.
“RMA’s are a mini-TxDOT,” Gordy said. “They are created and administered at a local level.”
There are two RMAs in Texas that operate as a sole county, but most are operated by multiple counties to help spread the cost of the projects.
“It allows the cross subsiding of projects across the region,” Gordy said.
It is suggested Jefferson, Hardin and Orange County form a RMA.
The board would be appointed by the county and the governor appoints the chairman.
The RMA has to generate the revenue for the projects and usually takes 120-180 days to create.
County Judge Carl Thibodeaux asked, “Can it be disbanded?”
Gordy said it could if the RMA went broke or another board was formed for the purpose of shutting the RMA down.
Every road would still have a designation such as Farm to market road, interstate, state highway. Whoever originally would have been responsible for the roadway would become responsible for it again if the RMA dissolved.
“Port and channel work could fit in the program as wheel,” Gordy said.
A decision to form a RMA or to join Jefferson and Hardin county in forming a RMA was not decided. The hearing was informational only.
Dawn Burleigh is a reporter at The Orange Leader. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @DawnBurleigh