This entry is going to serve as background for a future entry about the gasoline tax, new proposed “miles driven tax”, and tolls. It will probably be of little interest in isolation, so you might want to wait for the commentary later.
This map (click for larger version) is from a map of central Austin from the 2025 CAMPO plan. Every road which is colored something other than black is classified as an arterial (major roadway). Note that the axis of Austin’s grid is off – north-south in these comments refer to the roads that go diagonally off to the northeast.
The following arterial roadways on the image are part of the state highway system, and thus, eligible for gasoline tax money from the state:
- Mopac Expressway (north-south thick green line on left)
- I-35 (north-south thick red line on right – leaves screen)
- FM 2222 / Koenig Lane (east-west road at north end of image which starts as purple on the west end and switches to blue at Mopac)
- FM 2244 (small segment in extreme lower left of image colored olive green)
The following arterial roadways on this image are not part of the state highway system and have typically not received any gas tax money, either state or federal, for construction or maintenance:
North-south roads, roughly from left to right:
- Westlake Drive (pinkish road near Lake Austin on far left)
- Redbud Trail (small segment of pink crossing Lake Austin)
- Exposition Blvd (pink and purple road west of Mopac)
- Burnet Road (blue road starting at 45th St and heading north – at US 183 it turns into FM 1325 which is part of the state system
- Lamar Blvd (blue then purple then blue then olive green covering entire map segment)
- Guadalupe St. (purple then blue then purple then joining Lamar Blvd north of 45th St)
- Lavaca St. (forms one-way couplet with Guadalupe downtown)
- Congress Ave. (brown street in downtown grid)
- Colorado St., Brazos St. (two purple streets in downtown grid not otherwise mentioned)
- Red River St. (purple street just west of I-35)
- Chicon St. (I think) – pink north-south street on extreme lower right
East-West Streets, roughly from top to bottom
- Justin Lane (I think) – purple/pink at very top, ending at Lamar
- Hancock / North Loop – purple road starting at Mopac and heading east
- 45th St. – purple road starting at Mopac, changing to blue between Lamar and Guadalupe, then back to purple
- 35th / 38th St. – starts as purple west of Mopac, changes to blue east of Mopac and then pink
- Dean Keeton / 26th St – starts as blue/purple then changes to green, crosses I-35 and turns blue.
- Windsor / 24th St – starts as purple at Exposition, crosses Mopac and ends at Guadalupe
- MLK / 19th St – starts as pink at Lamar, changes to purple and crosses I-35
- Enfield / 15th St – starts as pink at Lake Austin, changes to purple at Exposition, crosses Mopac and turns into 15th St.
- 12th St. – starts at Lamar as purple then changes to blue, ends at Capitol, restarts after Capitol as blue, crosses I-35 and heads northwest as purple.
- 11th St. – starts as purple at Guadalupe, heads east to I-35, turns pink after I-35.
- Downtown grid: 8th, 7th Sts
- Lake Austin Blvd – from Enfield Road at lake, turns into 5th and 6th sts.
- 5th and 6th sts from Mopac to I-35
- Cesar Chavez / 1st St from Mopac to I-35 (just north of Town Lake)
- Barton Springs Road (small segment of blue in extreme lower left)
Keep in mind that, by terms laid out in the Constitution of the State of Texas, none of the roadways in the much larger list can receive state gas tax money. And in practice, none of them really receive federal gas tax money either, since the practice at CAMPO (the local board that disburses federal gas tax money returned to the state under various programs)is to disburse pretty much all of the available roadway funds to state highway projects.
In other words, when you drive on Lamar Blvd in central Austin, you’re paying gasoline tax to the state, but the city (who has to pay to rebuild the roadway when necessary, as just occurred over the last 2 years) doesn’t see one penny of that money. When you see construction on 38th St, the city is paying those bills with your property and sales taxes, not with the gas tax you incur while driving.
(corrected MLK / FM 969 on 2/23 – FM 969 does not start until Airport Blvd, which is off the map)
3 thoughts on “Most Major Roads In Cities Don’t Get Any Gas Tax”
Great job on this one …way to go cyaaaaaaaa
The premise that local roads don’t benefit from state gas tax isn’t quite true. There’s nothing to stop the state from spending money on local streets, and it’s quite common if the city and state get along.
Here in Houston, TxDOT has paid for portions of Kirby, Studewood, Bissonnet, San Felipe, and West Alabama, all of which are local streets. Studewood, by my house, is being re-built by the city, but the state’s paying about half of the $7 million cost.
It’s just a question of whether the city can talk the state into participating. They’re not obligated to, but they’re certainly not restricted from.
In fact, TXDOT is constitutionally required to spend the highway trust fund only on roads in the state highway system. It’s unlikely that the road projects you mentioned are outside the state highway system and funded by TXDOT (TXDOT does act as the administrator of certain projects which get FEDERAL gas tax money which can be used on local streets, but in our state, most of that federal gas tax money goes right back to state highways).
I picked one of the easiest ones to search on and found this link:
(have to use google cache because it’s apparently aged off the main site).
This seems to indicate that Kirby Drive’s reconstruction was paid for by the city of Houston.
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