Urban planning professors to research
lost transportation improvement funds


Because Texas is facing a transportation infrastructure funding crisis, the state is losing funds that could be used to finance transportation improvements. To determine the degree of this loss, three urban planning professors at Texas A&M are launching an 18–month study in June.

Were the state to establish regional mobility authorities (RMAs), the researchers suggest it could capture additional tax money derived from the rise in property values in areas where transportation infrastructure improvement occur, then reinvest the funds in transportation.

“Various reasons can prevent the establishment of RMAs, and we’re going to measure how much money could have been captured if an RMA had been started earlier,” said Jesse Saginor, assistant professor of urban planning, who is conducting the study with Eric Dumbaugh, assistant professor of urban planning and David Ellis, visiting associate professor of urban planning.

“Some areas may have newer infrastructure not yet needing significant maintenance, or it takes time for everyone to agree on a single plan,” said Saginor. “From an opposition standpoint, many people are against tolls and/or additional forms of geographic–based governance.”

An RMA, he said, is usually the size of one county and often more, since transportation is largely a regional issue.

In the study, Dumbaugh, Ellis and Saginor will identify the magnitude of property value increases associated with transportation infrastructure improvements by comparing property values in areas that recently underwent significant transportation infrastructure improvements against nearby control groups.

“Most cities have to do a special bond issue for transportation improvements, but with an RMA you can set up a budget and have an ongoing fund as opposed to having a special election every time you have a transportation construction project,” said Saginor.


- Posted: May 4, 2009 -

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