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The Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, oversees Texas transportation and is headquartered in Austin. The Texas Legislature created the organization in 1917, although the agency has had several names throughout the past century.TxDOT is run by a five-member commission and an executive director selected by the commission. Commission members are appointed by the governor, with the advice of the Texas Senate, and serve overlapping six-year terms.The department is divided into 25 districts, each of which oversees construction and maintenance of state highways. Austin’s district includes Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Gillespie, Hays, Lee, Llano, Mason, Travis and Williamson counties.In Austin, the organization encompasses entities including Capital Metro; the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, known as CAMPO; the city’s transportation department; and the chamber of commerce. TxDOT organized the “Don’t Mess with Texas” anti-litter campaign, which began in 1986. Also, it runs the TxTag program, which bills drivers for highway tolls by scanning a sticker on the driver’s windshield at toll stations.

Rebranded 'Don't Mess With Texas' Targets Young Litterbugs

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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.

“Some people just don’t get the education and awareness to an issue. Sometimes they’re just not subject to that," TxDOT spokesperson Mark Cross says. "What we want to do is make them subject to that with this campaign and help keep those younger generations, you know, in line with this thought that we can prevent litter and reduce litter along Texas highways.”

Cross says the agency is using more social media during this year’s campaign in addition to billboards, radio and television advertisements – as well as a “retro rebranding” of brightly-colored red, white and blue barrels across Texas that Cross hopes will reduce roadside pollution around the state by attracting the attention of potential litterbugs.

The campaign is even taking to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to connect with younger drivers across Texas.

There were 1.1 billion pieces of litter collected along Texas highways in 2009 in the agency’s last count.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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