Monday, June 16, 2014

Encouraging Words from new TXDOT Exec Director

Joe Weber's only been on the job for a little over a month, but he's saying some very encouraging things:

First, on recognizing the need for an internal culture change:
“I know that multi-modal, some people don’t like to hear that, but there’s a reason that our great legislature said in Austin in the 1990s, ‘You’re not the Texas Highway Department anymore. You’re the department of transportation,’” Weber said. “Because [in] transportation, we have to think multi-modal. That means a culture change.”
Second, understanding who we're building infrastructure and cities for:
“The biggest culture shock I had was spending six years at [Texas] A&M [University] and having students come into my offices,” he said. “A lot of them [did not] care whether they had their driver’s license or not or whether they own a car or not. It’s common. It’s that kind of generation, and we have to think about that.”
Third, awareness that projected population growth can't be handled strictly through highway expansion (or afforded):

He urged attendees to envision the future in 40 years and what the transportation needs will be for a state that could double in population during that time.
“I don’t know that we’re going to be slapping pavement down on roads 40 years from now,”

Lastly, a mention about DFW metropolitan area:
“You’re going to see more of them, and you’re going to see more creative and imaginative types of those kinds of partnerships,” he said. “I’m not sure if we can make it without them. Look at the size of some of the projects. They’ve got $12 billion in projects going on in the Metroplex. You’ve got $4 [billion] or $5 billion of projects going on here [Houston]. Who’s got that kind of money by themselves?”  
Perhaps there's a need for a culture change at the MPO level as well.