|Tracking Transportation in Texas
From his UTSA office, the state demographer glimpses Texas' future
With Texas expected to become home to another 9 million people in the next quarter-century, state planners already are seeking ways to unsnarl future traffic jams. The solution almost certainly involves adding or
expanding roads; the question now is where exactly new roads will be needed.
State Demographer Steve H. Murdock does not presume to have all of the answers. But Murdock, who holds
the Lutcher Brown Distinguished Chair in Demography and Organization Studies at UTSA, believes that knowing more about Texans—who they are, where they live, what they do and when they do it—can only lead to better decisions.
His work may influence the future of transportation in Texas. Murdock and his Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research are working with the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Transportation Research on a two-year, $200,000 project with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The project, which began in September 2005, is scheduled for completion this August.
TxDOT officials say the research will provide an overview of the demographic data that is available for transportation planning. It will also provide a summary of current uses of that data within the department and other transportation agencies in the state.
“As Texas’ population continues to grow and as the complexities of that growth change the fundamental demographic structure of the state, transportation planners will need a better understanding of demographic data,” says Greg Lancaster of TxDOT.
During the first year of the project, researchers fed
demographic information into a database they created specifically for TxDOT. The institute trained TxDOT workers on the database and on using demographics in general. Because the database is tailored to TxDOT’s needs, Murdock says,
it should be much easier to use than any source of demographic information the agency has worked with in the past.
“As far as I know, they’ve not had a Texas-specific overview of these demographics,” he says.
This year, Murdock and his colleagues will analyze the data they provided to TxDOT to see what trends emerge and consider what they might mean to the state’s transportation system. The researchers are not simply looking at changes
in the total population; they are also taking into account age, race, ethnicity and income.
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