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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.

Express (Toll) Lanes Coming to State Highway 71

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.

The project was announced Thursday by TxDOT, the Texas Transportation Commission and State Sen. Kirk Watson.

Once it’s done, it could mean less congestion on 71, both for people paying the tolls on the new lanes to be built between and above the existing lanes and for drivers staying on the free frontage lanes.

According to the announcement, the project paid for in part through the SH 130 Concession Agreement will result in new lanes in each direction and managed lanes without traffic signals.

"Using private dollars to fund a large portion of the construction gives us the opportunity to dramatically advance this project from a long-term unfunded vision to a reality," Texas Transportation Commission chairman said in a statement. "Partnering with Central Texas transportation authorities and Senator Watson will mean a commute to and from the Austin airport without the headaches that drivers currently experience."

Construction of the Highway 71 project could start as soon as the end of 2014.

Trey Shaar is an All Things Considered producer, reporter and host. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @treyshaar.
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