Friday, February 15, 2008

"Legislators from both parties, every region and all backgrounds, are equally fed up with TxDOT."

TxDOT scrutinized by legislators


By Ed Sterling, Texas Press Association
The Cameron herald
Copyright 2008

Higher-ups at the Texas Department of Transportation sat in front of two state Senate committees for about three hours and tried to answer questions about how the agency got to where it is, in a financial sinkhole.

At a Feb. 4 meeting, lawmakers in a joint meeting of the Senate Finance and Transportation Committees questioned TxDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz Jr., interim chair of the Texas Transportation Commission Esperanza “Hope” Andrade and others.

The officials said TxDOT committed a $1.1 billion bookkeeping error and scheduled more road projects than the agency could afford to fund. This resulted in road project freezes and cutbacks.

Lawmakers expressed disdain over how that could happen. They asked if this was a political stunt to push the state closer to public-private roadbuilding projects or just a case of incompetent management.

Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, called for an independent audit of TxDOT's financial records.

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, serves as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security.

“Fortunately, legislators from both parties, every region and all backgrounds, are equally fed up with TxDOT,” Watson said.

“Not only will there be some major reforms on tap for the next legislative session, but the Sunset Commission is reviewing the agency from top to bottom.”

© 2008 The Cameron Herald:

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