Transportation funding to get more truckers in Austin

A transportation funding bill that is poised to receive final Senate approval in the coming days would fund trucking services to about 4,000 drivers, according to an analysis by a Republican-backed Texas Transportation Commission.

The commission approved the proposal Tuesday night.

The proposal would fund an additional $8 million to expand the capacity of trucking companies to handle about 100,000 new vehicles a year, or more than 2.5 million new vehicles, according the analysis by the Republican-led commission.

That would put Texas on track to meet the national average for trucking traffic by 2020.

The transportation commission approved $8.5 billion in funding for the transportation programs that help drivers navigate Austin’s sprawling metropolitan area, the largest in the nation, and its nearly 2.1 million residents.

About half of the money would go to boost trucking capacity, including $3.9 billion for new infrastructure and $3 billion to hire truckers.

The commission’s transportation director, James Hahn, said the money was needed to make the system work and keep drivers in the city.

“The drivers and the drivers have to be able to make money, and it’s the backbone of the whole system,” he said.

“And so we just need to make sure that everybody’s getting paid, and everybody’s making a fair amount of money, so we can keep it going.”

Hahn said the commission also needs to fund other transportation programs, including a $10 million increase in vehicle license fees for new drivers, a $6 million increase for vehicle inspections, and an increase in the rate of fees for commercial drivers.