TxDOT

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From Texas Standard.

Every spring, wildflowers bring Texans and visitors alike out of their homes for all kinds of photo ops. It’s not uncommon to see dozens of cars parked along Texas highways as families pose in patches of bluebonnets.

Carol M. Highsmith /Wikimedia Commons

From Texas Standard.

When you think about the challenges of roadway construction, obstacles above the ground come to mind – getting over or through mountains, rivers, and the like. What’s under the ground isn’t usually on most people’s minds.

On Loop 88, a project just west of Lubbock, the Texas Department of Transportation found something unexpected: bones.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Traffic is terrible.

City and state officials are really good at counting cars to see how terrible traffic is and how it got that way, but that sort of data collection doesn’t exist for bike and pedestrian traffic. New research hopes to change that.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Sometimes, people are the worst. If you want proof of that, sit in traffic.

prettyinprint/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Willie Nelson may have sung it best :

I saw miles and miles of Texas, all the stars up in the sky

I saw miles and miles of Texas, gonna live here till I die

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: The Texas Transportation Commission unveiled a$1.3 billion plan Wednesday targeted at reducing traffic congestion on some of the most clogged Texas roadways.

The plan calls for the Texas Department of Transportation to direct funds for 14 roadway projects specifically designed to relieve gridlock around the state's five largest cities: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth.

Erroneous Toll Bills Fuel Criticism at TxDOT Hearing

Feb 11, 2015
Bill Jacobus/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Approximately 30,000 Texas drivers with valid TxTag accounts erroneously received bills in the mail for using the state’s toll roads, officials with the Texas Department of Transportation and Xerox told state senators Wednesday during a tense hearing.

“I thought it was going to be a large number, but I didn’t think it would be so large,” state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said a a Senate Transportation Committee hearing. TxDOT officials said they plan to refund all of the people who were erroneously charged, but they acknowledged there could be others who might not know they were incorrectly charged.

Statewide Transportation Measure Passes

Nov 5, 2014

Update: The constitutional amendment to take some oil and gas tax revenues and direct them towards road project funding passed by a wide margin – 79.78 percent for to 20.21 percent against.

"Passing Proposition 1 was just the first step in addressing the transportation funding shortfall in Texas," said Scott Haywood, President of Move Texas Forward, which pushed for the measure. "We look forward to continue working with our coalition partners as we fight for the additional funding for transportation that will move Texas forward.”

Original Story (Nov. 4, 12:21 p.m.): So much digital ink and airtime has been spilled over Austin's rail and roads proposition (commonly known as Austin's Prop 1), which would add a billion dollars in city debt to build a starter light rail line and improve state roads. But that isn't the only transportation item on the ballot this year. There's also a statewide proposition (also commonly known as statewide Prop 1) that could have an impact on Texas roads. 

sh45sw.com

From The Austin Monitor:

Supporters of the State Highway 45 Southwest toll road project showed up in the hundreds Tuesday night at a Texas Department of Transportation public hearing on the project's draft environmental impact statement.

While vocal opponents of the project – including the City of Austin and Save Our Springs Alliance – denouncing the draft's conclusions and data during the hearing, the majority of comments were in favor of the roadway, receiving cheers and applause from the largely pro-45 crowd inside Bowie High School's cafeteria.

SH 130 Concession Company

Update: Central Texas residents owe the state more than $27 million in unpaid tolls, and Texas is trying out a new method to collect the dough.

On Thursday, the Texas Department of Transportation released its list of the top 25 toll violators in the state. Topping the list was a Pflugerville resident who had 14,358 unpaid toll transactions, which totaled $236,026. Second place went to a Hutto resident with 10,566 unpaid tolls that added up to $217,619.

Violators were from six cities: Pflugerville, Hutto, Round Rock, Austin, Taylor and Leander. If violators do not pay up, Senate Bill 1792, which passed earlier this year, gives TxDOT the authority to possibly deny the offender’s vehicle registration and ban them from using TxDOT toll roads. 

Map Data @2013 Google

Traffic may be moving slower on SH 71 this morning around Southwest Parkway. And it’ll probably be that way for the next eight months or so.

SH 71 is reduced to one lane in each direction while crews work to widen the road.

The Texas Department of Transportation is adding turn lanes, an acceleration lane and paved shoulders to 71 at Southwest Parkway. TxDOT says the project will increase safety in the area.

TxDOT warns drivers should plan for possible delays in the area.

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Last week people packed into a room in downtown Austin. The Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees the Texas Department of Transportation, was having it’s monthly meeting. There it got some advice from State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso.

"I think it’s time for TxDOT to say we made a mistake," Rep. Pickett said.

Map Data @2013 Google

Update: The frontage road to the west of I-35 in Kyle will begin transitioning to one-way this morning and continue through Friday, April 12. 

The I-35 frontage road's repainting and repaving is expected to take only one day. and will be changed to handle only southbound traffic.

facebook.com/keepcranebeautiful

This weekend, Keep Texas Beautiful and the Texas Department of Transportation are joining together for 'Texas Trash-Off', which is Texas's "largest single-day litter cleanup" event.

courtesy city of San Marcos

Texas air traffic control towers are staying open for now, thanks to funding approved today by the Texas Transportation Commission.

The $2 million will keep the towers staffed at smaller Texas airports, including the ones in Georgetown and San Marcos, that were set to close as soon as this weekend after mandatory federal budget cuts known as the sequester.

dontmesswithtexas.org

The Texas Department of Transportation is reinvigorating its perennial “Don’t Mess with Texas” campaign this year to reduce littering among younger Texans.

A 2009 survey from the agency showed that over half of all “active litterers” in Texas were between the ages of 16 and 34, despite 95 percent levels of campaign awareness across all Texas drivers.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning this post-spring break Monday. Austin’s expecting record high temperatures approaching 90 degrees today. The National Weather Service says those high temperature make for elevated fire conditions, so be careful.

Lead Story: It’s one of the busiest days of the year at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, as many visitors in town for South by Southwest head home.

Texas Department of Transportation

Change is on the way for a stretch of State Highway 71 in Southeast Austin.

The Texas Department of Transportation is moving ahead with plans to build tolled express lanes from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport east to the SH 130 toll road.

courtesy SH 130 Concession Co.

If you drive on I-35, state transportation officials hope you’ll see fewer big trucks next month than you do today.

The state Transportation Commission approved a substantial toll reduction for 18-wheelers that circumnavigate the city on the Texas 130 and Texas 45 toll roads. Instead of paying $33 to bypass Austin, trucks will pay $11 or less.

Federal Railroad Administration

The Texas Department of Transportation has moved one step closer towards the idea of using rail as an option to address highway congestion on Interstate 35. The news comes as the TxDOT kicks off a $14 million, two-year study to explore the possibility of passenger rail service from Oklahoma City to South Texas.

The study will examine the best possible options for the development of passenger trains that will connect metropolitan areas such as the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Austin, and San Antonio.  The analysis will compare different types of services, including both a new high-speed rail system and existing Amtrak routes.

John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director and chief engineer, says “passenger rail [is] a strategic component for the future of Texas transportation.”

The rail study is partially funded by a $5.6 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration’s High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program, and a 20 percent match by TxDOT.

KUT News

Austin’s roads cost each local driver $1,200 a year. That's according to TRIP, a highway industry nonprofit. The organization also found that deficient roads in Texas cost drivers a total of $23 billion each year.

The report says poor road conditions cause accidents and additional traffic which lead to longer commute times and greater fuel usage. Substandard roads can also result in more wear and tear to vehicles and tires, resulting in higher maintenance costs. 

Overall, TRIP found that 18 percent of Texas’s major urban roads are in poor condition, while 27 percent are considered mediocre. Though $1,200 a year isn't chump change, the report still found Austin has the fewest number of roads in poor condition with nine percent. San Antonio ranks highest, with 33 percent of its roads in poor condition. 

With 85 MPH Speed Limit, Trucks May Avoid New Toll Road

Sep 27, 2012
Max Ually via Texas Tribune

In a matter of weeks, a 41-mile stretch of toll road with the fastest speed limit in the country will open in Central Texas.

But truck drivers may steer clear of the new high-speed road, said John Esparza, president of the Texas Motor Transportation Association, which represents the trucking industry in Texas.

“It’s going to be a deterrent, yes,” Esparza said of the road’s 85 mph speed limit.

The Texas Department of Transportation has said it pursued a higher speed limit for the new portion of State Highway 130 from Austin to Seguin in part to entice drivers away from more congested highways. Agency officials have said engineering tests demonstrated that an 85-mph speed limit is safe for the new toll road.

While he acknowledged that some truck drivers drive faster than 65 mph, most trucking companies try to keep drivers from traveling faster than that speed, both out of concerns for safety and because it reduces a truck's gas mileage, Esparza said. 

Starting this weekend, you should expect some lane closures on southbound I-35 around Stassney Lane.

Last month, a truck hauling an oversized load ran into the underside of the bridge, damaging it.

Though the Texas Department of Transportation says the crash didn’t make the bridge unsafe, it needs to be repaired – and that’s expected to take more than two weeks.

Texas Transportation Institute

The Texas Transportation Institute wants Austinites to fill out a survey about their use of toll roads and freeways. The Texas Legislature mandated TxDOT to have the survey done to evaluate the flow of traffic in the city.

The survey asks about when, where and how much time you spend on area highways.

TTI hopes to gather data that will help them find ways to encourage Central Texans to take toll roads.

TxDOT

The Texas Department of Transportation has just launched a new website designed to give you all the information you need before you hit the road.

DriveTexas.org features an interactive map that shows you traffic and weather conditions, construction projects and other information.

But before you use the mobile version of the website, you have to certify that you understand you shouldn’t use the website while driving.

View Speed Limit Raised to 80 MPH on SH-130, SH 45 S in a larger map

Today, the Texas Transportation Commission approved 80 mph speed limits on two Central Texas highways.

The limit has been raised on the nine mile stretch of State Highway 45 South, from Interstate Highway 35 to US Highway 183. Heading west, SH 45 turns into SH 130, and the 80 MPH designation continues for 45 more miles, all the way to IH-35 in Williamson County.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/nffcnnr

A dispute over federal transportation funding has some state and local governments worried. But the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDot) says if funding dries up, Texas can float construction costs for up to three months.

The U.S. Senate passed a $109 billion transportation bill nearly two weeks ago. But since then, the measure has garnered little traction in the House, as Republican legislators have rallied behind an alternate budget with deeper spending cuts, according to Washington DC journal The Hill.

As of this writing, the House just passed a 90-day extension of transportation funding. Should the Senate approve the same measure, it will prevent federal funds from hitting the skids this Saturday.

This map shows the areas of Loop 360 that would be affected by any changes.

As many commuters know well, traffic can be miserable in Austin. In 2010 INRIX, a traffic and congestion software research company, ranked the Austin metro area 26th for worst congestion nation-wide. Here is one commuter's video of sitting in traffic on Texas State Highway Loop 360:

The Texas Transportation Commission made headlines last week when it approved a plan to upgrade the management of the Department of Transportation with five new hires — each paid up to at least $250,000 annually. 

The commission and TxDOT have attempted to justify the large salary increases as part of an initiative to revitalize the giant agency by attracting new talent from the private sector. 

We combed The Texas Tribune'sgovernment employee salary database to see how the salaries of the new TxDOT positions compare to salaries of similar positions at other public entities. The Tribune’s database includes information from 140 public agencies and offices (click here for information on which entities were added in the latest update).

Photo Courtesy by Texas Department of Transportation

The Texas Transportation Commission announced John Barton to be TxDOT's interim executive director. Barton's appointment takes into effect on September 1.

Barton also serves as Assistant Executive Director for Engineering Operations and currently have over 25 years of experience from TxDOT.  He was responsible for the management and control of several projects and programs including Aviation, Bridge, Design, Environmental Affairs, Rail and Research & Technology Implementation Office.

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