Why has it taken so long to improve Montana Avenue?
El Paso, Texas —
During a segment last week, I revealed what Montana Avenue will probably look like in just a few years as the Texas Department of Transportation prepares for a major makeover of this busy road in East El Paso.
It'll basically turn Montana into a freeway, with frontage roads running from Global Reach Drive to Zaragoza Road.
TxDOT officials expect to put out bids for the project in the spring.
A KFOX14 viewer named Gabe posted a comment on social media stating that this project was supposed to have happened in the late 1980s or early 90s.
I wasn't able to find anything online regarding that history, but I do know that El Paso's transportation funding was in a very different place a quarter-century ago.
A court of inquiry led by legendary El Paso Judge Edward Marquez in the mid-90s revealed that El Paso was getting a lot less state funding than most other Texas cities. For example, evidence showed that per capita transportation funding from the state of Texas in El Paso was one-fifth of what Austin was getting.
The court of inquiry revealed this and other state funding shortfalls, and it did eventually lead to more state money for El Paso.
A couple of other things also helped El Paso get more money for road construction.
Prominent local businessman Ted Houghton served for more than a decade on the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees TxDOT. That included four years as the commission's chairman, ending in 2015.
In addition, El Paso State Rep. Joe Pickett has played a key role in getting transportation funding for the city. Despite being a Democrat in the Republican-controlled Texas House, Pickett was appointed chairman of the Transportation Committee in 2015.
Political clout like that has helped to bring more money to El Paso to pay for transportation projects, the sort of money that wasn't coming here back in the 80s and 90s.