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Transportation
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.

How Would You Improve Loop 360? TxDOT Wants To Know

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOO6DuftbOg

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is holding an open house Tuesday night to discuss possible changes for Loop 360 in an effort to ease traffic flow. The changes would affect the highway along a stretch from US 183 to US 290.

A spokesman for the department says that at this point the city is not looking to acquire any right-of-way permits. This means that 360 will not be adding lanes, or displacing any pre-existing homes or businesses.

Because the highway can't be widened, TxDOT is looking into "innovative intersection improvements" to help with congestion. This complicated-sounding term boils down to changes in protected left hand turns.

Proposed improvements include instituting 'Michigan lefts' or 'jughandles.' Priority would be given to drivers on 360. Drivers wanting to make a left-hand turn from a side street would need to take a right, drive down to the nearest cross-over, and then turn left. 

TxDOT is still in the conceptualizing stage and won't finalize any plans until next year. They are looking for public input both at tonight's open house, and in written form.

Tuesday's meeting will be held at Westlake High School from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 

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