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Logistics: Highways and Railways; Part 1- Highways


Logistics: Highways and Railways; Part 1- Highways

As we see our national and state economies continue to rebound from the most recent recession, we are seeing more and more traffic on the highways.  Based on traffic count numbers from 2013, provided by TXDOT, our average daily traffic count at exit 244 is 20,189 with approximately 34% of those being semi tractor/trailers.  TXDOT is already projecting that by 2033, the number will rise to 28,260. 

As we look at logistics, we compare it to the 3 legged stool used in describing the basic understanding for a successful entrepreneur.  As an entrepreneur, you need to know 1) your product, 2) finances, and 3) marketing. Many entrepreneurs know only 1 or 2 and need to seek out the knowledge from someone else.  In manufacturing, Logistics seems to be 2 of the 3 legs.  No matter what you make, you will need materials brought to you and then the finished product will need to be delivered to a warehouse or direct to the customer.  The same goes with service, a service provider orders part and then must deliver them to your house or business to install.

Highway funding over the last decade or two has come to the forefront as our roads have taken a beating and our populations have increased.  In recent meetings where transportation has been the leading topic, many explanations have been used as to why we are where we are with our roads.  Even though there are many explanations, lack of consistent funding was the most talked about.   This brings us to a place where you as a voter can assist.  In the November election, Prop 7 will be something you can support.  Prop 7 will allow the funding stream for TXDOT to actually go to TXDOT.  Over the past years and decades, TXDOT dedicated funds were diverted to other accounts within State Government.  Prop 7 is NOT a tax increase; it is merely allowing the TXDOT funds to be used by TXDOT.  Those new dollars cannot be used to build toll roads! With that said, just providing more money doesn’t always fix the problem.  It will also take leadership at the top to make sure the additional funds are used wisely.

As we look at some of the other issues that need to be addressed in our highway planning, we must look back to at least understand how we got where we are today.  In 1948, there were just 25,000 miles of paved roads w/ an estimated 7.63 million residence in Texas.  By 1963 (due to the interstate system), there were 65,000 miles of paved roads and an estimated population of 10.2 million people in Texas.  Texas, in 2010, was up to 25.3 million people living in Texas w/ an estimated 26.9 million in 2014 and growing at a rate of 1200 people per day.  Roads however don’t get the maintenance they need as 1) the gas tax has not been increased since 1991, 2) highways and bridges have a life expectancy of 40 to 50 years, and 3) 45 states in the US receive more $$ back from the Federal Government than what they pay in for roads ….. and yes Texas is 1 of the 5 that doesn’t!  In 1960, 33% of the Texas budget went for roads w/ only 9% going to roads in 2014.

Sweetwater and Nolan County has been fortunate to have Interstate 20, Highway 84, Highway 70, BNSF Rail, and the UP Rail run through or near Sweetwater and Roscoe. 

Our recent expansions tied to Logistics have because of the logistic infrastructure installed many years ago with some upgrades in recent years.

In Part 2 of Logistics, I will include information about rail and the effect it has on trucking in our area.

Until then, see you at the next function and be safe on our roads and highways!

Ken Becker, Executive Director

Sweetwater Economic Development