Given the historical importance of real estate in Texas politics, it was almost inevitable that a road lobby with political power to evolve. Political corruption involving Texas highways is a matter of long tradition, dating from the period shortly after the Texas Highway Department was established in 1916. After Texas Governor James "Pa" Ferguson was impeached for corruption in 1918, his wife "Ma" Ferguson ran and won in 1924 and became the first woman Governor of Texas. Subsequently, the scandals of contracting road prevented him from being reelected in 1926.
"... Throughout the years 1920 and 1930, the department remains a focal point of Texas politics. The gubernatorial election of 1924 Miriam Amanda Ferguson put the national road agency in a precarious political situation, since the control of construction and maintenance contracts potentially lucrative sponsorship meant Ferguson supporters. A legislative provision was adopted one year before the election of Ma Ferguson staggered terms of road commissioners, and appointed the three members of the commission of the reorganized road. His appointment soon took advantage and monetary policy of a road ... "
Later scandals road and a relative lack of money for highway during the years of depression caused the Texas Highway Department to clean up its political act. Dewitt Greer, a noted director of TxDOT, TxDOT policy remained clean for decades.
The 1950 federal money was easy with the new interstate highways under President Eisenhower, and many of the new road contracts, the roads were apparently a growth industry permanently. With the advent of the federal highway trust fund, roads came to be considered a kind of permanent right of land development. See the link to the history of Texas Monthly Griffin Smith in Part 1 of this series.
Increasingly since the Carter administration, in particular, Reagan, and until recently, most federal "social, economic and environmental" regulations governing the roads became increasingly lax and comply weakly. As one example, CAMPO is self-certification, the federal CAMPO vote to proclaim that they are complying with all federal laws. Indeed, the foxes get to vote if they steal chickens.
privatization credit easiest way under the lax rules led to new suburban roads being generously proposed to achieve the future land development projections provided by the developers. The road lobby and flourished as a coalition of special interests, with hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate loans at stake. TxDOT increasingly formed political alliances with the interests that benefited from growth based on the road. Rarely or never been TxDOT commissioners appointed on the basis of experience of transport rather than political or business connections. Meanwhile, in the mid 1980's, public transport is only about 1% of funds from TxDOT.
The fading of the IT bubble was building in Houston Sharpstown sent a lot of money stuck in Texas by the Austin interstate banking law. Savings and Loan bubble especially helped make Austin a hot growth area in the mid 1980's. It seemed easy to hire an endless supply of ...