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The TxDOT Update
News and Information from the Texas Department of Transportation

In this issue

  • TxDOT Helps Fight Wildfires
  • 2012 Transportation Forum Set For San Antonio
  • Tower 55 Funding Ceremony
  • Transportation Commission to Meet Sept. 29
  • TxPROS Implemented
  • Ferry Art Contest
  • Grand Parkway Groundbreaking
  • Update: State's 100 Most Congested Roads
  • Special Edition Podcast Commemorates 9/11
  • Small Hr


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TxDOT Goals

  1. Prepare for the future
  2. Enhance safety
  3. Maintain the transportation system
  4. Relieve congestion
  5. Enhance connectivity
  6. Work with our partners to
    identify funding strategies

September 12, 2011

Editor's Note: Here's our roundup of Texas Department of Transportation news and events. If you have any questions, comments or just want to know more about something you read here, send a message to AskTxDOT@txdot.gov.


TxDOT Helps Fight Wildfires

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Bastrop County fires have burned guardrails, signs and rights of way along SH 71 and SH 95.

When huge wind-swept wildfires erupted in central and east Texas during the Labor Day weekend, TxDOT crews helped the Texas Forest Service and local fire departments battle and contain the fast-moving blazes with equipment, fuel, water and traffic routing. In response to emergency calls for assistance, maintenance crews in the Austin, Tyler, Yoakum, Fort Worth, Atlanta, Childress, Lufkin, Amarillo and Waco districts built fireguards and supplied bulldozers, graders and extra manpower. Dynamic message signs on state highways displayed warnings of fire and smoke danger to guide motorists. Many of the fires have caused significant damage to roads, guardrails, signs and rights of way, which the agency is assessing.

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2012 Transportation Forum Set For San Antonio

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Registration is now open for the 7th Annual Texas Transportation Forum, set for Feb. 15-17 at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio, located on the Riverwalk. The theme for the 2012 Forum is "We're Going Places!" The annual event assembles local, regional and state leaders with national experts to discuss timely transportation issues.

Reserve your hotel room and register online now. Early registration closes Dec. 15 at 5 p.m. Central Time. We hope to see you in San Antonio in 2012!

Register now »

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Tower 55 Funding Ceremony

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Texas Transportation Commissioner Bill Meadows, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, former Mayor Mike Moncrief, and Sen. John Cornyn at the Tower 55 ceremony.

On Sept. 1, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined state officials and railroad industry leaders in Fort Worth to sign the obligation of $34 million in federal TIGER II grant funds for major rail improvements at the Tower 55 intersection. The public-private partnership between the BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, the city of Fort Worth and TxDOT, coupled with the Federal Railroad Administration funding, will make a total of $91 million in improvements at one of the nation's most congested rail intersections. The project will create approximately 900 jobs and is expected to begin in spring 2012.

Texas Transportation Commissioner Bill Meadows, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Sen. John Cornyn, Rep. Kay Granger, and Rep. Michael Burgess participated in the event.

"This project could not have happened without the unprecedented collaboration of a number of entities that supported this essential project," Meadows said. "The Tower 55 Multimodal Improvement Project exemplifies the strong commitment of TxDOT to comprehensive transportation planning, and an acknowledgment that a transportation system includes many different and diverse components."

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Transportation Commission to Meet Sept. 29

The Texas Transportation Commission will convene for its next regular monthly meeting at 9 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 29. The Commission will discuss the development of a 511 traveler information program and updates to the Texas Rail Plan. The Commission also will receive a status report on the agency's modernization efforts. The will be no workshop meeting this month.

Read more »

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TxPROS Implemented

On Aug. 29, TxDOT's Motor Carrier Division launched the Texas Permitting and Routing Optimization System (TxPROS), a Web-based system that allows Texas motor carriers to apply for overweight/oversize permits online 24/7. Carriers can also self-issue routine permits and generate safe routes without staff intervention, which reduces permit processing time from hours to minutes. Motor carriers have self-issued about 50 percent of all permits since the new system went live.

"It's about doing business better in Texas," said John Barton, interim TxDOT executive director. "TxPROS improves customer service and saves money. It's another step in the modernization of the agency, and it reinforces our commitment to transparency and accountability."

TxPROS was launched just in time to help handle a rebound in demand for permits. Fiscal year 2011 ended with a new record for oversize/overweight permits – 590,984, up 18 percent over FY 2010. August also set a new monthly record with more than 57,000 permits issued.

For more information »

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Ferry Art Contest

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Artwork on the Mark G. Goode ferry.

The Second Annual Port Aransas Ferry Art Contest is under way. Winning entries will be reproduced and featured on the towers of three ferry boats. The contest is open to anyone and includes two categories – children (age 18 and under) and adult (older than age 18). The deadline for submitting original artwork is Oct. 31. Winners will be selected by the end of 2011.

To enter »

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Grand Parkway Groundbreaking

A groundbreaking ceremony for Segment E of the Grand Parkway (SH 99) project is set for Tuesday, Sept. 13 in Houston. TxDOT recently awarded four construction contracts, totaling approximately $321 million, for the project. When completed, Segment E will be a 15-mile, four-lane, controlled access toll road from I-10W to US 290. The project is designed to ease traffic congestion and spur economic development in northwest Houston and expected to be completed in 28 months. Earlier this year, the Texas Transportation Commission assumed construction authority of the project from Harris County and allocated $350 million from uncommitted dollars in the Texas Mobility Fund to build Segment E. State officials, including Transportation Commissioner Ned Holmes, will be on hand for the ceremony.

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Update: State's 100 Most Congested Roads

TxDOT has released its 2011 edition of the 100 most congested roadways list, and the results are not surprising — congestion remains a daily challenge for motorists in Texas metropolitan areas. With a few exceptions, the 2011 list is much the same as last year's. The differences are likely the result of slower traffic speeds because of prolonged weather events, lane closures related to recent construction projects or faster speeds resulting from the completion of road or bridge improvements.

The list »

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Special Edition Podcast Commemorates 9/11

TxDOT produces a weekly Statewide Podcast to keep you updated on the latest transportation news and issues, and new podcast episodes are published every Friday on the TxDOT website, www.txdot.gov.

This week, we have a special edition TxDOT Podcast commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. We talk with former U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who reflects on his historic decision to issue an order grounding all domestic air traffic during the attacks and his ensuing responsibility to enhance air travel security. Episodes are also available on iTunes.

Listen to Podcast »

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All inquiries may be directed to AskTxDOT@txdot.gov.