Uresti discusses the importance of energy, water, roads in State of the District Address
Eagle Ford Shale Development, water, and road infrastructure topped the list of issues in the annual State of the District address by Sen. Carlos Uresti, who vowed he will continue to seek alternatives to gravel road conversions in Senate District 19.
Uresti has been working with fellow legislators, county and city officials, TxDOT, and other stakeholders on the agency's plan to convert 83 miles — and perhaps up to 400 miles — of paved roads into gravel in oil and gas producing regions.
"It's no secret that I'm not a fan of this proposal," Uresti said. "TxDOT needs to revisit this approach. It takes us down the wrong road, and we need to find a better way."
Uresti has already negotiated a 60 day moratorium for roads targeted for conversion, giving counties an opportunity to seek alternatives. Now he wants TxDOT to develop strict criteria for identifying potential conversions, give local leaders more advanced notice, and establish a timetable for converting gravel back to pavement.
Noting that transportation and water infrastructure are critical to the state's economy, Uresti urged voters to support Proposition 6 in the November election, which will provide $2.1 million from the rainy day fund for water projects, and a second amendment that will be on the ballot next year that would provide an additional $1.2 billion for road construction and maintenance.
"Many of our highways and bridges are reaching the end of their lifespans. That means it's going to take more investment just to maintain and reconstruct them, much less add additional capacity," Uresti said Wednesday at the Chamber's 17th Annual State of the District Address. "With more than 51,000 bridges and almost 200,000 lane-miles of state roadways, we have a lot of infrastructure to take care of.
"I certainly urge the people of Texas to support both amendments. They are desperately needed for our future economic vitality," he said.
Uresti, recently appointed to the Energy Council, also noted the continuing importance of the state's unprecedented oil boom, particularly the Eagle Ford Shale that underlies part of Senate District 19.
"A Wood Mackenzie report released in January said the Eagle Ford ranks as the largest oil and gas development in the world, based on capital investment," Uresti said, "and it's projected that almost $30 billion will be spent in developing the play this year alone."
The shale play is having a direct economic impact on South San Antonio, he said, citing oil-related growth at Port San Antonio, Holt Cat, and Palo Alto College, which recently received approval from the Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer a new associate degree program in oil and gas technology.
On other issues, Uresti:
- Congratulated Toyota Texas for its upcoming 10th anniversary in San Antonio.
- Noted the continuing growth at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, which is well on its way to becoming the largest satellite campus in the A&M System.
- Applauded SAWS for completing the task of taking over BexarMet, resulting in better service for ratepayers and a recent upgrade in the agency's bonds.
In the legislative interim, Uresti committed to "working with anyone who's willing to work with me" on behalf of the people of Texas and Senate District 19, and he thanked members of the South Chamber and other area health care, business, industry, and community leaders for helping to transform the South Side.
"I can say without reservation that the state of the district is strong, but there is always more to do," he said. "Let's see what we can accomplish now."
Sen. Uresti represents Senate District 19, which covers more than 35,000 square miles and contains all or part of 17 counties, two international ports of entry, ten state parks, 51 school districts, almost 9,000 miles of highways and county roads, and more than 34,000 producing oil and gas wells. The district is larger than 11 states and 124 Nations, and contains almost 400 miles of the Texas-Mexico border.