Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Out of control"

Sunset panel urges tighter rein on TxDOT


Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
Copyright 2008

AUSTIN — Describing the Texas Department of Transportation as "a mess" that must be transformed to restore public trust, a legislative panel Tuesday recommended keeping a tight rein on the agency, removing some of its duties and whittling its oversight board from five members to one.

The Sunset Advisory Commission recommendations were made after a report by its staff found concerns that TxDOT was "out of control" following controversy over planned public-private partnerships on toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor transportation network.

And the report also had questions about the department's finances.

The agency is under Sunset review, which determines whether agencies should be changed or even continue to exist.

As part of an effort to revamp TxDOT, the Sunset panel agreed 7-5 to recommend reducing the Texas Transportation Commission from five members to one.

Under the recommendation, the single commissioner still would be appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.

Sunset panel member Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, plans to file her own bill that would allow for the commissioner to be elected.

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