Hometown Glory

Unstoppable! National Mayors Conference projects Houston will grow faster than any other city

Unstoppable! National Mayors Conference projects Houston will grow faster than any other city

Houston, skyline, downtown
Mayor Annise Parker argued that Houston — and other metropolitan areas — should receive a fair share of federal transit dollars. Courtesy of Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Last week was a busy but triumphant one for Mayor Annise Parker. In a mid-week repartee with comedian-cum-pundit Stephen Colbert, she touted Houston's livability and its robust job market; the latter fact was further confirmed in a report released by the United States Conference of Mayors in Philadelphia, where Parker ended her week.

The comprehensive, 116-page long report, prepared by IHS Global Insight, counts the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan statistical area as the leader of gross metropolitan product growth in 2012 for the entire country (following a 3.8 percent growth in 2011). Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos has seen similar growth, with five percent in 2011 and more than three percent anticipated for 2012.

Metropolitan areas, already the seat of 90.7 percent of the country's gross domestic product and 83.7 percent of its population, are projected to see continued growth into the future.

 And so the report indicates, more than anything, an urgent need for infrastructure improvements — from roads to ports and beyond — to absorb that growth. 

Forecasts anticipate the biggest boom in the South and estimate that the populations of No. 1 Houston, Dallas and San Antonio will advance by more than 50 percent by 2042.

And so the report indicates, more than anything, an urgent need for infrastructure improvements — from roads to ports and beyond — to absorb that growth. 

"Houston and Dallas already rank among the most congested metros; if there is not significant investment in infrastructure congestion costs will be astronomical and will stifle long-term economic potential," the report warns.

That burden rests heavily on the citizens: In 2010, Houston ranked as the fourth-most congested city in the nation, with the value of wasted time and spent fuel totaling $1,171 per commuter.

Parker echoed that concern in an interview with Texas on the Potomac: "The greater Houston metropolitan area has a greater GDP than the entire state of Georgia. The top 10 city metro areas in the United States have a greater GDP than 35 states added together.

"I shouldn’t have to compete with rural areas in some other part of the country for desperately needed transit dollars, for example, since I represent such a large piece of the population. And my fellow mayors would say the same thing."