We can build transportation projects faster, more efficiently

As Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation in the Texas Legislature, I have had the privilege of working toward improving our ability to deliver road projects in the Rio Grande Valley. Throughout my tenure, one issue has become increasingly clear: Hidalgo County’s transportation system is being left behind. It is time for a change. It is time for HidalgoCounty to embrace a centralized system of managing its road construction and maintenance.

The benefits of such a shift cannot be overstated. By transitioning to a centralized county-wide road administration system, Hidalgo County would unlock a multitude of advantages for its residents. First and foremost, it would result in significant savings in tax dollars. With a streamlined approach to managing road projects, resources can be allocated more efficiently, reducing wasteful spending and maximizing the impact of every dollar invested in our transportation infrastructure.

Moreover, a centralized system would expedite the completion of projects. Currently, the lack of coordination and unified decision-making within Hidalgo County has led to delays and inefficiencies. By consolidating efforts, we can accelerate the pace of construction and ensure timely project delivery. Our communities deserve well-maintained roads that keep pace with their growth and development.

Accountability is another critical factor that a centralized system would enhance. Clear lines of responsibility and transparent processes would ensure that decisions are made in the public’s best interest. Citizens deserve a transportation system that is responsive to their needs and interests, and a unified approach will foster a higher level of accountability among all those involved in managing our roads.

Additionally, a centralized system would bring together the voices of our Commissioners Court, fostering greater unity and collaboration. By aligning our county’s transportation goals and strategies, we can effectively address the unique challenges we face as a region. In 2019, we merged our three local Metropolitan Planning Organizations to form the RGVMPO. The effort was pushed, in part, as a strategy to unite our communities and focus on transportation projects regionally. The same arguments used to form a regional MPO can be applied to the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court. These are the same reasons Cameron County adopted this system in 1996.

The urgency for change was made clear during the Fall of 2022, when I embarked on a listening tour focused on delivering transportation projects more efficiently to the people of the Rio Grande Valley. Conversations with county officials, city officials, road contractors, engineers and Texas Department of Transportation employees revealed a resounding concern: the absence of a centralized county-wide road administration system in Hidalgo County.

We must heed this call for action and address this critical gap. I strongly urge the Hidalgo County commissioners to consider centralizing their transportation administration, and if they won’t, I will be filing legislation in the upcoming legislative session to make this happen. To be clear, I don’t blame the current Hidalgo County judge and Commissioners Court. They inherited this antiquated system of road management and are trying to do their best to work with the current system.

To achieve this goal, we must rally support from all corners of our community. I encourage local officials, community leaders and residents to join forces in advocating for the establishment of a centralized system for managing road construction and maintenance in Hidalgo County. Together, we can create a transportation network that is the envy of the state, improving connectivity, promoting economic growth and enhancing the quality of life for all who call the Rio Grande Valley home.

Hidalgo County cannot afford to be left behind any longer. It is time to embrace progress, efficiency and unity. Let us seize this opportunity to revitalize our transportation system, accelerate our projects, save taxpayer dollars and pave the way for a brighter future. The time for change is now, and together, we can make it happen.

Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, represents Texas House District 40, which encompasses the heart of Hidalgo County.