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Any area’s economic stability relies on the resources and the infrastructure that sustain it, including natural resources such as lakes and parklands, as well as highways and power plants.

A reliable supply of fresh water is needed to sustain life, and also to support activities such as agriculture, commerce and electric power generation. Employers prefer areas with good transportation systems and adequate energy and water supplies, along with quality-of-life resources such as recreational opportunities, a clean environment and a pleasant climate. Central Texas’ infrastructure has much to offer its current and future residents.

Exhibit 16

Central Texas Region Total Water Use, 2006

In 2006, 46.7% of water was used by the Municipal sector.  21.4% was used for irrigation. 11.8% was used for manufacturing, 10.8% was used to generate electricity, Livestock used 7.1% and mining used 2.2%.

Source: Texas Water Develoment Board.

Exhibit 17

Central Texas Regional Water Planning Groups

see alternative

Source: Texas Water Develoment Board.

View text for Central Texas Regional Water Planning Groups.

Exhibit 18

Central Texas Actual and Projected Total Water Use by Sector, 2000-2060 (in acre-feet)

Sector 2000 2020 2040 2060
Irrigation 62,669 59,324 55,893 52,536
Livestock 26,581 26,581 26,581 26,581
Manufacturing 13,209 17,482 19,697 23,280
Mining 41,734 18,075 6,784 5,230
Municipal 181,917 227,222 257,014 280,277
Steam Electric 88,632 140,596 176,113 229,961
Total 414,742 489,280 542,082 617,865

Sources: Texas Water Development Board.

The region faces the same challenges as other areas of the state. A struggling national economy is slowing the pace of Texas growth and development. Even so, a robust infrastructure will allow the region to maintain stability and continue its expansion when the national economic climate improves.


The Central Texas region is an area of diverse water resources. Bisected by the Brazos River, bordered on the east by the Trinity River and containing a portion of the Colorado in its western end as well, the region also sits above two major aquifers and has 16 major reservoirs and lakes. Average annual rainfall in the region ranges from nearly 28 inches in its westernmost counties to about 45 inches in its eastern end. (Statewide rainfall averages range from 10 inches annually in far West Texas to 55 inches in the Southeast.)1

In 2006 (the most recent data available), municipal water systems accounted for nearly half of the water used in Central Texas, with irrigation representing the second-largest sector of use (Exhibit 16). The region also uses water for manufacturing, electricity generation, livestock and a small amount for mining.2

Nearly all of the Central Texas region lies within the Brazos Region (G) water planning region, as designated by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). Two counties on the western end of the region (Mills and San Saba) are in the Lower Colorado Region (K); one county on the northeast corner (Freestone) is in Region C; and the other two most easterly counties (Leon and Madison) lie in Region H (Exhibit 17).

Under state law, water planners must estimate water supply and use for a 50-year period; the current planning cycle covers the years 2010 through 2060. Based on data from 2000, planners project that annual water use in the Central Texas region will rise by 49 percent, to 617,865 acre-feet in 2060. (One acre-foot of water equals 325,851 gallons, the amount of water needed to cover an acre of land a foot deep. An acre-foot roughly equals the annual consumption of two to three households in Texas. A regulation Olympic-sized swimming pool holds about two acre-feet.)

Within that increase, changes are expected in the portions used by each sector of the economy. Municipal water use is projected to continue to account for more than 45 percent of the region’s water use in 2060. Electricity’s share, however, is projected to almost double, while the portion devoted to irrigation and manufacturing will decrease significantly, dropping to less than 9 percent and 4 percent, respectively, of total water use in 2060. The other two water use sectors, livestock and mining, currently account for small percentages of Central Texas’ water use and are expected to shrink further by 2060; the actual volume of water used for mining in 2060 is projected to be only a fraction of what it was in 2000 (Exhibit 18).3

Exhibit 19

Central Texas Streams, Major Rivers and River Basins

see alternative

Source: Texas Water Develoment Board.

View text for Central Texas Streams, Major Rivers and River Basins.

Central Texas’ infrastructure has much to offer its current and future residents.

Surface Water

Parts of three of the state’s largest rivers (the Brazos, Trinity and Colorado) lie within or border the Central Texas region, along with numerous smaller streams and tributaries including the Leon, Bosque, and Navasota rivers (Exhibit 19).

These streams and the reservoirs built into them provide 51 percent of the region’s water. Municipal uses account for more than half of all the 217,415 acre-feet of surface water used.

Exhibit 20

Major Water Supply Reservoirs, Central Texas Region

Reservoir Name River Basin Year 2010 Projected Yield (acre-feet) Conservation Storage Capacity (acre-feet)
Alcoa Lake Brazos 7,800 15,650
Aquilla Lake Brazos 12,437 45,092
Belton Lake Brazos 211,856 435,225
Bryan Utilities Lake Brazos 85 15,227
Fairfield Lake Trinity 1,567 44,169
Gibbons Creek Reservoir Brazos 6,310 32,084
Lake Creek Lake Brazos 9,991 8,400
Lake Limestone Brazos 63,519 208,015
Somerville Lake Brazos 43,149 147,095
Stillhouse Hollow Lake Brazos N/A 227,771
Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir Brazos 4,120 35,110
Twin Oak Reservoir Brazos 2,725 30,319
Lake Waco Brazos 79,869 144,546
Lake Whitney Brazos 18,336 553,344
Total   461,764 1,942,047

Note: Stillhouse Hollow Lake operates as part of a system; no individual yield total is available.
Source: Texas Water Development Board.

The region has 14 major reservoirs, including Lake Whitney and Fairfield Lake (Exhibit 20).

Central Texas contains portions of the territories of two river authorities that manage intrastate surface waters. The Trinity River Authority has jurisdiction over its river from Tarrant and Dallas counties down to the top of Galveston Bay, including the northeastern corner of Grimes County and most of Madison, Leon and Freestone counties. The Brazos River Authority manages the river whose basin covers most of the region, with the river bed forming part of the boundaries of eight of its counties.


In 2006, groundwater supplied 49 percent of the Central Texas region’s total water use (Exhibit 21). Several counties in the region actually consume much more groundwater than surface water, particularly Brazos County, despite bordering rivers on three sides. These counties have significant irrigation demands, and a couple (including Brazos) also use groundwater for municipal supplies. The region uses groundwater for three-fourths of its irrigation water supply, but the share devoted to irrigation is diminishing as municipal and electricity water demand grows.4

Exhibit 21

Central Texas Region Water Sources, by Sector, 2006

see alternative
In acre-feet:MunicipalManufacturingSteam ElectricIrrigationMiningLivestockTotal
Surface Water112,04516,03140,36323,62369224,661217,415
Ground Water82,35235,2456,40869,0659,4116,056208,537

Source: Texas Water Develoment Board.

View Central Texas Region Water Sources table.

The region uses groundwater for three-fourths of its irrigation water supply, but the share devoted to irrigation is diminishing as municipal and electricity water demand grows.

Groundwater comes from aquifers, water-bearing layers of permeable rock, sand or gravel within the earth. The region sits above the middle sections of two major aquifers and two minor ones. A small part of the large Gulf Coast Aquifer lies under Washington, Brazos and Grimes counties, and a tiny portion of the Edwards Aquifer extends into Bell County as well (Exhibits 22 and 23).5

Exhibit 22

Central Texas Major Aquifers

The Central Texas region sits above four major aquifers: the Trinity, Edwards BFZ, Carrizo-Wilcox and Gulf Coast. All of these aquifers except for the Gulf Coast have two parts, an outcrop and a subcrop. The outcrop is the portion of a water-bearing rock unit exposed at the land surface. The subcrop is the portion of a water-bearing rock unit existing below other rock units.
Source: Texas Water Development Board.

Source: Texas Water Develoment Board.

Exhibit 23

Aquifers, Central Texas Region

Aquifer Name Availability
(acre-feet in 2010)
Carrizo-Wilcox 1,014,753
Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) 373,811
Gulf Coast 1,825,976
Trinity 205,799
Queen City 295,791
Sparta 50,511

Note: Queen City and Sparta are designated as minor aquifers by the Texas Water Development Board.

Source: Texas Water Development Board.

State laws approved in 1999 and 2001 encourage the use of groundwater conservation districts (GCDs), led by locally elected or appointed officials, to manage groundwater sources. The Central Texas region currently has 10 GCDs, two of them pending confirmation by local election.6

Groundwater conservation districts have some options to restrict groundwater pumping to maintain aquifer sustainability. One Central Texas district, Clearwater Underground WCD in Bell County, has ad valorem taxing authority, while the others do not. State law generally allows districts to receive revenue through fees, bond proceeds, investments, grants and loans, depending on the wording of the statute creating the district.

As noted earlier, the region’s water use for electricity generation is projected to increase rapidly, and its growing population will likewise demand a greater share of available water for municipal use. Conservation strategies will be an important part of maintaining the area’s supplies, especially in light of the possibility of more frequent and harsher droughts being an effect of a changing climate.

Parks and Recreational Opportunities

The Central Texas region has abundant recreational facilities, from hiking trails and fishing opportunities to white-water kayaking and rafting on area rivers. Central Texas has something for every outdoor enthusiast.

State Parks

The region’s state parks and recreational lakes offer a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Lake Whitney and Fort Parker state parks have the largest economic impact on the region.

Lake Whitney State Park, located on the eastern shore of this reservoir formed from the Brazos River, is about 30 miles north of Waco. Well known to anglers, the park also offers bird and wildlife watching, boating, mountain biking, camping and picnicking in a prairie landscape. Its 955 acres of parkland was originally leased from the U.S. Army three years after the lake’s creation in 1951; the park opened in 1965. Fishing from the shore or a boat provides good opportunities to land some of Texas’ most popular sport fish, including white, striped, smallmouth and largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie and catfish.

The Brazos River valley has been inhabited since prehistoric times. More recently, Native American tribes such as the Comanche, Wichita and Taovaya Indians lived in the area during the 1800s when settlers from the East began to arrive. Lake Whitney was allowed to inundate the ruins of Towash, a town mostly abandoned in the late 19th century when the railroad bypassed it and came to the nearby town of Whitney.8

Lake Whitney State Park had almost 84,700 visitors in fiscal 2007. Visitors in fiscal 2006 (the latest data available) spent more than $1 million in the area. The park’s total economic impact on sales in Hill and Bosque counties is estimated at more than $1.9 million annually.9

Exhibit 24

State Parks, Central Texas Region

Name Number of Visitors 2007 2006 Total Economic Impact on Sales 2006 Spending by Visitors
Lake Whitney State Park 84,694 $1.9 million $1 million
Fort Parker State Park 93,123 $1.1 million $560,000
Meridian State Park 44,126 $760,000 $350,000
Fairfield Lake State Park 53,650 $680,000 $150,000
Mother Neff State Park 19,313 $390,000 $140,000
Fort Boggy State Park 12,648 $150,000 $35,000

Sources: Texas Coalition for Conservation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Fort Parker, near Mexia in Limestone County, was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) on land donated in 1935, and opened in 1941. It bears the name of the historic fortified settlement where, a century earlier, a Comanche raid resulted in the abduction of Cynthia Ann Parker, a girl who lived as a Comanche for the rest of her life and who was the mother of Chief Quanah Parker. In addition to the nearby reconstructed fort, also built by CCC, some remnants of local history are contained within the park’s boundaries. The town of Springfield was the original county seat in the mid-19th century, but dwindled away after the railroad bypassed it. A cemetery located beside the park road is all that remains of Springfield.

Fort Parker State Park offers swimming, fishing and boating in the lake created by CCC’s dam on the Navasota River, as well as wildlife and bird watching, hiking, biking, camping and canoe rentals. The CCC-built facilities include a group camp with air-conditioned barracks and a dining hall, as well as picnic sites and shelters and campsites with water and electricity.10

In fiscal 2006, visitors to Fort Parker State Park spent almost $560,000 in the area. The park had a total economic impact on sales in Limestone County of nearly $1.1 million. Fort Parker had more than 93,000 visitors in fiscal 2007.11

Exhibit 24 summarizes the economic impact of state parks in the Central Texas region. In addition to these parks, the region is also home to the Lake Somerville State Park Complex, Colorado Bend State Park and the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Site. These state parks had a combined 2007 visitation of more than 307,000 people.12

Recreational Lakes and Reservoirs

The Central Texas region’s numerous lakes and reservoirs offer recreational activities including boating and fishing (Exhibit 25).13

Exhibit 25

Recreational Lakes and Reservoirs, Central Texas Region

Name Location Size Maximum Depth
Aquilla Lake 35 miles north of Waco 3,020 acres 59 feet
Belton Lake 5 miles northwest of Belton 12,385 acres 124 feet
Fairfield Lake 5 miles northeast of Fairfield 2,159 acres 49 feet
Fort Parker State Park Lake South of Mexia 725 acres 6 feet
Gibbons Creek Reservoir 20 miles east of College Station 2,770 acres 34 feet
Lake Bryan 5 miles west of Bryan 829 acres 45 feet
Lake Limestone 15 miles southeast of Groesbeck 12,553 acres 43 feet
Lake Mexia 7 miles west of Mexia 1,048 acres 20 feet
Lake Waco Within the Waco city limits 8,465 acres 90 feet
Lake Whitney 30 miles northwest of Waco 23,500 acres 108 feet
Somerville Lake 30 miles southwest of College Station 11,456 acres 38 feet
Stillhouse Hollow Lake 5 miles west of Belton 6,429 acres 107 feet
Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir 7 miles east of Waco 2,010 acres 42 feet

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Fishing and Hunting

Central Texas offers a variety of freshwater fishing opportunities. The region’s lakes support several types of bass; all types of catfish; both types of crappie (black and white); and several types of sunfish, as well as red drum in a few locations.14

Every county in the region offers some sort of legal hunting, with some variations in permit requirements for antlerless deer, bag limits for deer and squirrels and whether turkey hunting is permitted.

San Saba is the only county in the region permitting the hunting of javelina, from October 1 to February 24 in the 2008-09 season with a bag limit of two. In Brazos, Falls, Freestone, Grimes, Limestone, Madison and Robertson counties, no turkey hunting is allowed; antlerless deer can be hunted by permit only; and bag limits for white-tail deer are set at three, including no more than one buck and no more than two antlerless deer.

Hill, McLennan and Milam counties have that same bag limit for deer, but Hill and Milam have turkey hunting (only for the month of April 2009 in Milam), and McLennan County does not require a permit for antlerless deer. All counties with a three-deer bag limit except McClellan provide an exception to the antlerless permit requirement from Thanksgiving Day through the Sunday immediately following Thanksgiving, except in areas where a special permit is required.

Mills and San Saba counties have a late deer season from January 5 to 18, in addition to their general deer seasons. The bag limit for their combined seasons is five deer with no more than two bucks allowed. Otherwise, all general hunting regulations are in force in the Central Texas region (Exhibit 26).15

In 2007, hunting and fishing enthusiasts in the Central Texas region purchased about 150,000 licenses from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, at a cost of more than $4.2 million. All revenue collected from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses goes to a dedicated state fund set up for the protection, regulation and conservation of the state’s fish and wildlife.16

Exhibit 26

Bag Limits and Other Applicable Hunting Regulations, Central Texas Region, 2008-09

Animal Season
White-tailed Deer Open season lasts from November 1 until January 4. The limit is two antlerless deer and two bucks, with no more than one buck having an inside spread of 13 inches or greater.

Archery season lasts from September 27 until October 31. Antlerless deer may be hunted without a permit unless the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has issued antlerless managed land deer permits to help control the deer population. A special youth-only season occurs twice a year on October 25 and 26, and January 17 and 18.
Squirrel No closed season except in Freestone, Limestone and Robertson counties, where open season lasts from October 1 until February 1 and May 1 – 31. There is no bag limit except in Burleson, Falls, Freestone, Limestone, Madison, Milam and Robertson counties, where the daily limit is ten.
Turkey Fall open season is from November 1 to January 4, and spring season (for Rio Grande gobblers only) runs from April 4 to May 17. The annual bag limit for Rio Grande and Eastern turkey is four, no more than one of which may be an Eastern turkey. Counties with an Eastern turkey spring season have no fall turkey season.

Archery only: September 27 – October 31.
Special youth-only season: March 28 – 29 and May 23 – 24.
Quail October 25 – February 22. Daily bag limit: 15; possession limit: 45.
Dove Central Zone: September 1 – October 30 and December 26 – January 13 with no limit.

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.


The Central Texas region, like the rest of Texas, depends on reliable energy for its success and prosperity. The region is fortunate to include part of the Giddings Field, once a top producer of both oil and natural gas.17 Today, fossil fuels continue to produce a share of the region’s energy.

Oil and Natural Gas

The Giddings Austin Chalk Field stretches from Mexico through Central Texas and into northwest Louisiana. Between 1993 and 1997, the Giddings Field produced more natural gas and crude oil than any other field in Texas.18 While both oil and gas production from the Giddings Field has fallen, drilling continues and exploration companies are still acquiring mineral rights in the historic field.19

According to the Texas Railroad Commission, the region has about 3,282 active oil wells, with the largest concentrations in Burleson County (997 wells), Milam County (932 wells) and Brazos County (467 wells).20 The region also has about 5,848 active natural gas wells. The largest concentrations of these are in Freestone County (2,725 wells), Limestone County (1,054) and Robertson County (722 wells).21

The Comptroller estimates that the Central Texas region’s oil and natural gas industry accounted for more than 4,902 jobs and nearly $284 million in earnings in 2007.22


The Central Texas region, particularly Freestone, Lee, Milam, Leon, Robertson and Limestone counties, produces a significant amount of lignite coal. Lignite, the lowest-quality coal, is used almost entirely for electricity generation or to create heat for industrial processes such as smelting. The region contains six of Texas’ 12 operating lignite mines and produced 16.7 million tons of coal in 2007, about 41 percent of the state total (Exhibit 27).

Three mines in the region, Jewett E/F, Three Oaks and Big Brown, are among the top producing Texas lignite mines. The region’s mines support coal-fired electricity generation plants as well as industrial facilities in the state. In 2007, the region’s lignite mining accounted for more than 745 jobs and more than $52 million in earnings.23

Exhibit 27

Active Coal Mines, Central Texas Region, 2007

Name County Company Production
(in tons)
Jewett E/F Mine Freestone, Leon Texas Westmoreland Coal Co. 5,169,675
Three Oaks Mine Milam, Lee Alcoa Inc. 4,284,599
Big Brown Mine Freestone Luminant Mining Co. 3,515,809
Calvert Mine Robertson Walnut Creek Mining Co. 1,902,877
Jewett Mine Leon, Limestone, Freestone Texas Westmoreland Coal Co. 1,630,993
Kosse Mine Robertson, Limestone Luminant Mining Co. 196,806
Total 16,700,759

Source: Texas Railroad Commission.

Utility Rates and Services

Central Texas is served by a single electric grid operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages 85 percent of Texas’ electricity flow. In cooperation with ERCOT, numerous electric providers use this grid to operate in the Central Texas region.

Exhibit 28 shows the fuel sources used to provide power to the Central Texas region.25

Texas began deregulating its retail electricity market in 2002. This deregulation, however, applies only to investor-owned utilities within the ERCOT region. Utilities owned by cities and rural cooperatives are not required to join the deregulated market.30 The Central Texas region has municipally owned utilities in San Saba, Lampasas, Caldwell, Goldthwaite, Hearne, Brenham, College Station and Bryan, while other parts of the region are served by rural cooperatives. None of these have joined the deregulated market.31 Residential electricity rates charged by the region’s member-owned cooperatives currently hover around 11 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), which is slightly higher than the state average for member-owned cooperatives, which is 9.7 cents per kWh.32 The state average across all sectors, including both member-owned cooperatives and private companies, is 13.2 cents per hour.33

Exhibit 28

Percentage of Electricity Generated by Fuel Type, ERCOT, 2008 (percent)

Fuel Source ERCOT
Natural Gas 46%
Coal 37%
Nuclear 13%
Wind 3%
Oil 0.5%
Hydroelectric 0.5%
Total 100%

Note: Fuel Source totals have been rounded.
Sources: Electric Reliability Council of Texas and Southwest Power Pool.

Exhibit 29

Municipally-Owned Utilities and Member-Owned Cooperatives, Central Texas Region

Entity Name Service Area
Bartlett Electric Cooperative Bell, Milam and Burleson counties
Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative Milam, Washington and Burleson counties
Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Brazos County
Brenham Municipal Light and Power System City of Brenham
Bryan Texas Utilities Brazos, Burleson and Robertson counties
Caldwell City Government City of Caldwell
Central Texas Electric Cooperative San Saba County
College Station Utilities City of College Station
Comanche County Electric Cooperative Mills County
Fayette Electric Cooperative Washington County
Goldthwaite Utilities City of Goldthwaite
Hamilton County Electric Cooperative San Saba, Mills, Lampasas, Hamilton and Coryell counties
Hearne Municipal Electric System City of Hearne
Heart of Texas Electric Cooperative Hamilton, Coryell, Bosque, Bell, Milam and Falls counties
Hilco Electric Cooperative McLennan and Hill counties
Houston County Electric Cooperative Freestone and Leon counties
Lampasas Public Utilities City of Lampasas
Mid-South Electric Cooperative Madison and Grimes counties
Navarro County Electric Cooperative Hill, Limestone and Freestone counties
Navasota Valley Electric Cooperative McLennan, Hill, Limestone, Freestone, Robertson, Falls, Leon, Madison and Brazos counties
Pedernales Electric Cooperative San Saba, Lampasas and Bell counties
San Bernard Electric Cooperative Grimes County
City of San Saba Utilities City of San Saba
United Cooperative Services Hamilton, Coryell and Bosque counties

Sources: Public Utility Commission of Texas and Texas Electric Cooperatives.

Exhibit 29 lists the region’s municipal- and member-owned cooperatives and their service areas.

While much of the Central Texas region is rural, many areas, particularly those with larger cities such as Waco and Killeen, now receive service from private companies. Areas involved in the deregulated ERCOT market include parts of McLennan, Bell, Leon, Freestone, Falls, Coryell, Milam, Hamilton, Hill and Bosque counties.34

An increasing number of private companies provide retail electric service to customers in these areas. For example, citizens of downtown Waco can choose among eight utility providers that offer average prices ranging from 9.8 cents to 17.9 cents per kWh.35


The Central Texas region’s 100-plus mile stretch of Interstate Highway 35 (IH-35) is critical to the state’s transportation needs. IH-35 links the U.S. and Mexico, creating a primary trade corridor between the two countries. In addition to trucks carrying trade goods, Central Texas’ highways receive significant use from daily commuters as well as travelers between Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

Exhibit 30

Highway Miles, Vehicle Miles Driven and Registered Vehicles,
Central Texas Region, 2008

County Name Centerline Miles Lane Miles Daily Vehicle Miles Registered Vehicles
Bell 596 1,510 6,268,077 256,862
Bosque 347 695 569,069 21,858
Brazos 325 892 3,386,180 131,721
Burleson 234 522 738,226 21,914
Coryell 327 684 971,551 53,048
Falls 347 733 748,537 16,455
Freestone 377 809 1,700,430 24,366
Grimes 292 615 969,533 29,508
Hamilton 288 580 386,223 11,352
Hill 494 1,075 2,240,197 40,780
Lampasas 213 490 579,554 23,303
Leon 389 833 1,521,701 22,707
Limestone 379 769 781,545 24,950
Madison 264 571 965,867 12,899
McLennan 654 1,670 5,868,411 201,880
Milam 335 691 902,620 29,308
Mills 210 451 263,393 7,018
Robertson 294 627 970,323 18,338
San Saba 216 436 165,223 7,672
Washington 275 658 1,237,829 40,039
Central Texas Total 6,856 15,311 31,234,489 995,978
Statewide Total 79,975 192,542 488,790,361 21,171,729

Source: Texas Department of Transportation.

Privately owned rail lines also transport goods across the region. In addition, Central Texas is home to a number of public transit authorities as well as commercial airports in Waco, College Station and Killeen.


The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) builds and maintains the Texas highway system through local offices and alliances with contractors located around the state. TxDOT serves Central Texas from offices in Brenham, Bryan, Hearne, Huntsville, Lampasas, Belton, Gatesville, Hillsboro, Marlin and Waco.

While the region has a vast network of roads, TxDOT has given the following priority in terms of repair and expansion projects:

  • Interstate Highway 35, running north from Temple to Waco through Bell, McLennan and Hill counties;
  • State Highway 31, which runs northeast from Waco through McLennan and Hill counties;
  • U.S. Highway 190, which runs east from Lampasas to Temple and then southeast from Temple toward Bryan, crossing Lampasas, Coryell, Bell, Milam and Robertson counties;
  • State Highway 6, which runs southeast from Waco to Bryan through McLennan, Falls, Robertson and Brazos counties;
  • U.S. Highway 290, which runs east through Washington county; and
  • Interstate Highway 45, which runs north from Madison County through Leon and Freestone counties.36

In all, the region has 6,856 centerline miles (miles traveled in a single direction regardless of the number of lanes) and 15,311 total lane miles of state highways. It has nearly 1 million registered vehicles that travel about 31 million miles daily. The state as a whole contains 79,975 centerline miles, 192,542 total lane miles and more than 21 million registered vehicles that travel nearly 490 million miles each day (Exhibit 30).37

Road construction for state, local and private sources in Central Texas accounted for more than 6,000 jobs and more than $236 million in earnings in 2007.38

Trade Corridors

Interstate Highway 35 is the primary corridor for goods transported from Mexico and South Texas up through Central Texas and beyond. As the sole highway connecting Texas, Mexico, Canada and the heartland states, IH-35 is frequently used by trucks carrying goods imported from Mexico.39 The Central Texas region receives high traffic volumes due in large part to trade of this nature – in fact, the stretch of IH-35 through Waco serves about 50,000 vehicles per day.40 To help manage traffic on this critical trade route, TxDOT is undertaking a number of initiatives to expand IH-35.

Exhibit 31

Interstate 35 Trade Corridor

A map of the region shows Interstate Highway 35, which passes through Bell, McLennan and Hill counties, and Interstate Highway 45, which crosses Madison, Leon and Freestone counties. Source: Texas Department of Transportation.

Source: Texas Department of Transportation.

IH-35 expansions planned for Bell, McLennan and Hill counties over the next decade will add lanes to relieve traffic congestion. In some areas, road widening has already begun. For example, a current project in Waco will expand IH-35 from six to seven lanes. Because truckers make up such a large share of travelers on IH-35, future projects in the Central Texas region may include separate truck-only lanes in addition to traditional all-traffic lanes (Exhibit 31).42

Such expansion projects fall under a broader TxDOT initiative to provide Texas with multimodal transportation between major metropolitan areas. Introduced by Governor Rick Perry in 2002 as the Trans-Texas Corridor, the large-scale plan initially called for one “super highway” with a 1,200-foot right of way across much of the state. Debate among Texas citizens, lawmakers and TxDOT has spurred changes to the plan over the past few years.

The current concept, renamed “Innovative Connectivity,” will no longer require a 1,200-foot right of way in most places, but still entails a score of regional projects to widen roadways as well as public-private partnerships to build toll roads. In conjunction with metropolitan planning organizations, the newly formed Corridor Segment Advisory Committees and other local entities, TxDOT is also considering commuter rail for some regions.43

Public Transportation

Waco and Bryan are the two largest urban areas in the region. Public transportation services in those cities are provided by Heart of Texas Rural Transit District and The District, respectively. Public transportation is available to smaller areas as well. College Station receives services from Texas A&M University Transit Services, while the city of Killeen is served by Hill County Transit District and Whitney citizens can use Whitney Dial-a-Ride (Exhibit 32).44

Exhibit 32

Public Transportation Resources, Central Texas Region

Public Transit Authorities Office Locations Counties Served
Central Texas Hop City of San Saba San Saba, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam, Mills
The District City of Bryan Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson, Washington
Heart of Texas Rural Transit District City of Waco Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, Leon, Limestone, McLennan
Hill County Transit District City of Killeen Bell
Texas A&M University Transit Services City of College Station Brazos
Waco Transit System City of Waco McLennan
Whitney Dial-a-Ride City of Whitney Hill

Source: American Public Transportation Association.

Exhibit 33

Central Texas Rail Lines, 2009

A map displays the rail lines that run through the region. Two major companies operate lines in the region: Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe.  Source: Texas Department of Transportation.

Source: Texas Department of Transportation.


Five railroad companies operate within the region, including two Class I railroads (classified as such for their large annual operating revenues), one regional railroad and two local railroads. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Company and Union Pacific Railroad Company operate the majority of tracks in the Central Texas region. Texas Pacifico Transportation Limited, Gulf, Colorado & San Saba Railway and Rockdale, Sandow & Southern Railroad also operate in the area.45 The region’s rail lines run parallel to several highways including IH-35, Highway 6, Highway 190 and Highway 79 (Exhibit 33).

Railroads played a central role in the establishment and industrial growth of the Central Texas region. Killeen and Temple were both founded by the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Company in the late 1800s; in fact, both cities were named after men who represented the company. Railroad workers and nearby rural citizens settled the towns, opening shops, hotels, gristmills and saloons.46 Today, the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Company no longer exists, but several of its numerous rail lines are still being operated across the Central Texas region, shipping goods such as coal and timber to other parts of the state and beyond.


The Central Texas region contains 24 airports, including commercial airports in College Station, Killeen and Waco.48 Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport receives the highest traffic volume of any airport in the region; in 2007, more than 216,000 passengers boarded at Killeen-Fort Hood, up 3 percent from 2006 totals.49 Many emotional departures and homecomings take place at this airport for soldiers flying to and from combat zones. American Eagle, Delta’s Atlantic Southeast Airlines and Continental’s Colgan Air all provide service to and from the Killeen airport.50

Easterwood Airport in College Station is the region’s second-busiest, with more than 90,000 passenger boardings in 2007, up 6 percent from a year earlier.51 American Eagle and Continental Airlines serve Easterwood.52

Road construction in Brazos County.

Road construction in Brazos County.

PHOTO: Texas A&M University


All links were valid at the time of publication. Changes to web sites not maintained by the office of the Texas Comptroller may not be reflected in the links below.

  • 1 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II (Austin, Texas, 2007), p. 132, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 2 Data for Central Texas water use in 2006 by county, type, and user sector provided by the Texas Water Development Board on January 13, 2009. (Excel spreadsheets.)
  • 3 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II, pp. 25-30, 49-54, 55-60, 73-78,;;; (Last visited on March 16, 2009.); and data for water demand projections provided by the Texas Water Development Board on March 3, 2007. (Excel spreadsheets.)
  • 4 Data provided by the Texas Water Development Board on January 13, 2009.
  • 5 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas, 2007, Volume II, pp. 193, 195, 199, 209, 213-214, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 6 Texas Water Development Board, “Groundwater Conservation Districts,” (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 7 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Mother Neff State Park,” p. 1, (Last visited March 17, 2009.)
  • 8 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Lake Whitney State Park,” pp. 1-3,; and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Interpretive Guide to Lake Whitney State Park,” p. 2, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 9 Texas Coalition for Conservation, The Economic Contributions of Texas State Parks in FY 2006, by John L. Crompton & Juddson Culpepper, Texas A&M University, Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences (Austin, Texas, December 2006), p. 19, (Last visited March 16, 2009.); and data supplied by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “State Park Sites, Acreage, and Visits,” July 24, 2008. (Excel spreadsheet.)
  • 10 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Fort Parker State Park,” pp. 1-3,; and The Handbook of Texas Online, “Springfield, Texas,” p. 1, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 11 Texas Coalition for Conservation, The Economic Contributions of Texas State Parks in FY 2006, p. 18; and data supplied by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “State Park Sites, Acreage, and Visits.”
  • 12 Texas Coalition for Conservation, The Economic Contributions of Texas State Parks in FY 2006; and data supplied by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “State Park Sites, Acreage, and Visits.”
  • 13 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Freshwater Lakes: Prairies and Lakes Region,” pp. 1-3, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 14 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Freshwater Fishes Found in Texas,” pp. 1-2, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 15 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “2008-2009 Texas Hunting Season Dates by County,” pp. 1-2. (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 16 E-mail communication from Lacie Russell, Intergovernmental Affairs Division, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, July 22, 2008; and data provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Recreational License Sales: Central Texas Region, License Year 2007.” (Excel spreadsheet.)
  • 17 Texas Railroad Commission, “Top 25 Producing Oil and Gas Fields Based on 1999 Production,” p. 1, (Last visited April 27, 2009.)
  • 18 Dan Piller, “A Tale of Two Fields: Giddings Offers a Lesson in How Quickly Things Can Change,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (March 7, 2006), (Last visited March 17, 2009.)
  • 19 Austin Exploration Limited, “Austin Acquires Mineral Rights in Top-Ranked U.S. Oil and Gas Field: New Drilling and Re-entry Program to Begin,” pp. 1-3, Adelaide, Australia, August 6, 2008, (Last visited March 17, 2009.) (Press release.)
  • 20 Texas Railroad Commission, “Oil Well Counts by County as of February 2009,” pp.1-5, (Last visited March 17, 2009.)
  • 21 Texas Railroad Commission, “Gas Well Counts by County as of February 2009,” pp.1-5, (Last visited March 17, 2009.)
  • 22 Data provided by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “North American Industrial Classification System Codes 211111, 21311, 23712, 32411, 32511, 33313, 48611 and 48621: Oil and Natural Gas Related Employment and Wages for Central Texas.” A custom database query was created.
  • 23 Texas Railroad Commission, “Coal Mining Locations: February 2009,” p. 1,; and Texas Railroad Commission, “Annual Production Data,” p. 1, (Last visited April 27, 2009.) (Excel spreadsheet.) ; and data provided by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “North American Industrial Classification System Codes 212111, 212113, 213113 and 423520: Coal Mining Related Employment and Wages for Central Texas.” A custom database query was created.
  • 24 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Mars Snack Food Plant to Get Power from Waco Landfill,” Dallas, Texas, May 13, 2008, pp. 1-2,!OpenDocument. (Last visited March 17, 2009.) (Press release.)
  • 25 Electric Reliability Council of Texas, “ERCOT Quick Facts,” p. 1, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 26 Texas Sports Hall of Fame, “Origin of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame,” p. 1, (Last visited March 17, 2009.)
  • 27 The Handbook of Texas Online, “Texas Sports Hall of Fame,” p. 1, (Last visited March 17, 2009.)
  • 28 Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau, “Texas Sports Hall of Fame,” p. 1, (Last visited March 17, 2009.)
  • 29 Texas Sports Hall of Fame, “Expansion/Endowment Campaign,” pp. 1-4,; and San Antonio Express News, “Texas Sports Hall of Fame: SWC’s Resting Place Finds Home in Waco,” pp. 1-2, (Last visited March 17, 2009.)
  • 30 Texas State Senate Electric Utility Restructuring Legislative Oversight Committee, “Electric Utility Restructuring Legislative Oversight Committee” p. 1,; and Public Utility Commission of Texas, “Municipal Electric Utilities and Electric Co-ops,” pp. 1-3, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 31 Public Utility Commission of Texas, “Market Directories & Utilities: Electric Companies Serving Texas,” (Last visited March 16, 2009.) Custom queries created for municipalities.
  • 32 Heart of Texas Electric Co-op, “Rates (How to Calculate Your Bill),”; and Bartlett Electric Cooperative, “Rate Schedules,”; and Public Utility Commission of Texas, Rate Regulation Division, “Electric Utility Bill Comparison: December 2008,” (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 33 U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Table 5.6.A. Average Retail Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector, by State, November 2008 and 2007,” Electric Power Monthly (February 2009), (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 34 Public Utility Commission of Texas, “Texas: Transmission and Distribution Utilities in Competitive Retail Areas,” p. 1, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 35 The #1 Site to Compare and Order Electricity in Texas, “Learn More about Available Electricity Providers in Your Area,” (Last visited March 16, 2009.) Rates are based on a 1000 kWh per month plan.
  • 36 Texas Department of Transportation, “Current Projects” (Last visited March 16, 2009.) Custom queries created.
  • 37 Data provided by Texas Department of Transportation, “FY 2007 Statistical Comparison of Texas Counties (9/1/2006 thru 8/31/2007).” (Excel spreadsheet.)
  • 38 Data provided by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “North American Industrial Classification System Code 237: Heavy and Civil Engineering and Construction Related Employment for Central Texas, ” A custom database query was created.
  • 39 Texas Department of Transportation, “IH 35 Trade Corridor Study: Executive Summary,” p. 1, (Last visited March 17, 2009.)
  • 40 Interview with Christopher Evilia, director, Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization, Waco, Texas, January 14, 2009.
  • 41 Interview with Patricia Robinson, secretary, Freestone County Fair Board, Fairfield, Texas, January 22, 2009.
  • 42 Texas Department of Transportation, “Current TxDOT Projects: Waco District,” (Last visited March 16, 2009.) Custom queries created; and interview with Christopher Evilia, director, Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization.
  • 43 Texas Department of Transportation, Innovative Connectivity in Texas: Vision 2009 (Austin, Texas, 2009), pp. 1,3, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 44 American Public Transportation Association, “Texas Transit Links,” pp. 1-4, 6-9, 11-12, 14, 17, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 45 Association of American Railroads, “Railroad Service in Texas, 2006,” pp. 1-2, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 46 The Handbook of Texas Online, “Killeen, Texas,” p. 1,; and The Handbook of Texas Online, “Temple, Texas,” p. 1, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 47 Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, “Air Quality in Texas (Air Quality Index),” (Last visited April 13, 2009.)
  • 48 Texas Department of Transportation, “Texas Airport Directory,” pp. 2-6, (Last visited April 13, 2009.)
  • 49 U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, “Final Calendar Year 2007 Enplanements and Percent Change from CY06,” (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 50 City of Killeen, “Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport: We’ll Take You There,” p. 1, (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
  • 51 U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, “Final Calendar Year 2007 Enplanements and Percent Change from CY06.”
  • 52 Texas A&M University, “Easterwood Airport-Airline Links,” (Last visited March 16, 2009.)
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