“Transportation funding is in trouble,” he said. “Not just in Texas but the rest of the country.”
He said he disapproves of proposals to raise the gas tax or automobile registration fees to fund road projects. Instead, he said he would like to see a portion of the auto sales tax diverted to transportation.
“That doesn’t raise the tax,” he said, “it just diverts the tax.”
Since the vast majority of the loop project was funded by local money, Riley said most of the delay has been caused by government procedural red tape.
Riley said he opposed a move to federalize the loop and dictate what the city can do with it based on the fact the highway connects with an interstate.
After significant debate, Riley said TxDOT and federal regulators agreed to allow the project to move forward after trimming an estimated 36-month review policy to just nine months. Environmental concerns and other state regulatory issues have caused some additional delays, he said, though the completed portion indicates what is yet to come.
“It’s really a pretty drive,” he said, noting the aesthetic appeal of the route’s rural setting. “If you haven’t been on it yet, do it. It will save you some time.”