Texas highway department facing budget woes
HOUSTON The colder temperatures certainly have TxDOT in winter mode. While they weren't expecting any precipitation Monday night, they were preparing for any type of inclement weather this winter. On Thursday, maintenance crews and management will be gathering for a summit to prepare for winter operations. TxDOT says in recent years there have been more occasions where anti-icing operations were required on Houston roadways. At the same time, they are facing budget cuts, so they're taking inventory to minimize last-minute purchases that cost more. They'll be applying magnesium chloride before a storm rather than using after-storm products, which can reduce the amount of supplies needed by half. They're also cross-training staff. "We're having to do more with less and so we are looking at every possible way to do that," Texas Department of Transportation Spokeswoman Raquelle Lewis said. "We're working with a reduced workforce right now and so we are looking at how we can cross-train existing staff to perform some of the services outside of their normal areas of expertise." The budget woes for TxDOT may not be short term. State legislators will be faced with many issues in the coming session. The state transportation committee believes the budget could be reduced by as much as 39 percent for 2012-2013. It's not known yet what kind of funds might be on the table but the idea of raising the state gas tax for the first time in 20 years has even been suggested.