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

TxDOT Mission

Work with others to provide safe and reliable transportation solutions for Texas.

TxDOT Goals

  • Maintain a safe system
  • Address congestion
  • Connect Texas communities
  • Best in class state agency

TxDOT Values

  • Trust
  • Integrity
  • Responsibility
  • Excellence
  • Service

In this issue

  • Hurricane Season: TxDOT Ready to Respond
  • Transportation Commission Actions
  • Planning for the Panama Canal Expansion
  • Vietnam Veteran Installs Purple Heart Trail Sign
  • Drive Clean Across Texas Spot Wins Telly
  • Northeast Loop 567 Groundbreaking In Granbury
  • Texas Highways: Summer Getaways
  • Sign Up for I-35 Lane Closure Emails
  • TxDOT Leadership Appointments
  • Rest Areas Honor Late Lawmaker
  • RFP Issued for Grand Parkway Project
  • TxDOT Podcast: Scott Belcher, Intelligent Transportation Society of America
  • Small Hr


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June 4, 2012

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.

Hurricane Season: TxDOT Ready to Respond

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Hurricane season began June 1, and TxDOT is ready to promptly respond in the event of storms and flooding.  The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30,  will be "near-normal," with nine to 15 tropical storms and four to eight of those strengthening into hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted.

If a tropical storm is forecast to make landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast, TxDOT crews will be mobilized statewide to help Texans flee from harm's way and return home safely.  We'll use Twitter and Facebook to alert and update residents about road conditions, including contraflow and evacuation routes on state highways.

We urge residents, particularly those along the coast, to pay close attention to weather forecasts during hurricane season. Being prepared is everyone's responsibility. The time to get prepared and make evacuation plans is now.

Read more »
Watch this hurricane preparedness video »

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Transportation Commission Actions

The Texas Transportation Commission convened May 31 for its regular monthly meeting and took the following actions:

  • Authorized the issuance of a request for qualifications for the development, design, construction and, potentially, maintenance for the US 77 project from CR 16 south to FM 1898 in Nueces County.
  • Authorized the allocation of an additional $1.5 million to the Grand Parkway Association for environmental studies and additional work for the development of Segments E, F-1, F-2 and G of the Grand Parkway (SH 99) project in Harris and Montgomery counties.
  • Awarded federal and state grant funding for airport improvement projects at various locations

Read more »

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Planning for the Panama Canal Expansion

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The expansion of the Panama Canal will increase freight traffic throughout the Texas transportation system.

With the expansion of the Panama Canal slated for completion in 2014, TxDOT needs to ensure the state's transportation system is prepared for the additional freight traffic the development is expected to generate. To begin planning necessary transportation improvements now, TxDOT is creating the Panama Canal Stakeholder Working Group to facilitate the movement of increased freight through the state. Representatives from the port, agriculture, trucking, manufacturing, government, oil and gas, and rail industries have been invited to participate in of the group.

Read more »

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Vietnam Veteran Installs Purple Heart Trail Sign

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Albert Perez helps install a Purple Heart Trail sign on I-37 at the Oakville overpass.

While serving a tour of duty in Vietnam for the U.S. Army from 1966-67, Albert Perez survived a gunshot wound to the head. Perez was awarded a Purple Heart and returned home to Live Oak County, where he's spent the last 15 years working as a maintenance technician for TxDOT's George West Maintenance Section. Perez recently helped install one of two Purple Heart Trail signs on I-37 near his home. The signs are located on the northbound and southbound sides of I-37 at the Oakville overpass. The Purple Heart Trail runs through all 50 states to honor those who have been killed or wounded in combat while serving in the U.S. armed forces.

Read more about the Purple Heart Trail »

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Drive Clean Across Texas Spot Wins Telly

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The Drive Clean Across Texas (DCAT) campaign's "Baby Shower" TV spot recently won a Bronze Telly in the 32nd Annual Telly Awards. The national awards program recognizes regional and local TV commercials throughout the country. DCAT, a statewide public education campaign that raises awareness about the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality and motivates drivers to take steps in reducing tailpipe emissions, is managed by TxDOT's Environmental Affairs and Travel Information divisions. The commercial was created for the campaign by Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing of Austin.

Watch the award-winning spot »

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Northeast Loop 567 Groundbreaking In Granbury

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State Sen. Brian Birdwell (left) and Granbury Chamber of Commerce President Mike Scott participate in the Northeast Loop 567 groundbreaking.

Construction of the Northeast Loop 567 from FM 51 north of Granbury to US 377 Business is under way, following a recent ground-breaking ceremony. The $4.6 million project ─ a partnership between TxDOT, Hood County and the city of Granbury ─ will complete the north loop around Granbury, connecting with the northwest quadrant from US 377 to FM 51 that opened in 2003. The two projects will provide a 6.5-mile corridor to improve traffic flow through downtown Granbury. The 2.4-mile project is expected to be completed by spring/summer 2013.

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Texas Highways: Summer Getaways

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Guests at the Greer Farm in Daingerfield cross paths with a menagerie of cattle, sheep, ducks, guinea fowl and chickens. Photo by Kevin Stillman for Texas Highways.

It’s summertime, and the June issue of Texas Highways is the perfect guide for your vacation planning. The hidden treasures of West Galveston Bay, the solitude of the wilds of Matagorda Island, and the farm-and-ranch getaways and the rebirth of historic Nocona near the Oklahoma border are explored in the newest issue of the official travel magazine of Texas. Also read about upcoming events around the state, including the grand opening of the new Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center at San Antonio’s Witte Museum and the world of Dr. Seuss at the Children's Art and Literacy Festival in Abilene. Follow the magazine on Twitter and Facebook.

For a free trial issue »

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Sign Up for I-35 Lane Closure Emails

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If you travel I-35 through Central Texas, you already know much of the stretch from Hillsboro through Salado is being widened, requiring lane closures and creating some traffic delays. To get where you're going on time, sign up for I-35 email notifications about closures involving mainlanes, frontage roads, ramps and cross streets. We have several email subscription options ─ daily, seven-day and high-impact lane closure forecasts. Choose the one that works best for you.

To sign up »

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TxDOT Leadership Appointments

TxDOT administration recently announced some new leadership appointments. Scott Leonard is the chief administrative and strategy officer. In this newly created position, Leonard oversees four core priorities: strategy and performance excellence, human resources, information technology and programs. Most recently, Leonard worked at Energy Future Holdings/TXU Corp., where he served as senior vice president of performance improvement, overseeing the development and execution of a significant internal restructuring program.

Elias Rmeili, P.E., is the new Brownwood District engineer. In recent years, Rmeili has served in numerous capacities in the district, including design engineer, director of transportation planning and development and director of operations.

Benjamin Asher is the innovative finance and debt management officer, overseeing the department’s various debt programs, the State Infrastructure Bank, toll equity, pass-through financings and the financial aspects of TxDOT’s public-private partnerships. Asher previously served as senior managing director worked for the Public Resources Advisory Group.

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The Edmund P. Kuempel rest areas on I-10 near Seguin feature nature trials, picnic arbors, playgrounds and wireless Internet access.

Rest Areas Honor Late Lawmaker

State and local officials recently dedicated the two Guadalupe County safety rest areas on eastbound and westbound I-10 near Seguin in honor of the late state Rep. Edmund Kuempel. Kuempel, who had represented the Seguin area since 1983, died Nov. 4, 2010 after suffering a heart attack. State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon authored an amendment to the 2011 TxDOT Sunset Bill to rename the rest areas in Kuempel’s memory. The partner rest areas opened in 2006.

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RFP Issued for Grand Parkway Project

TxDOT has published a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit proposals from the short-listed teams interested in entering into a design-build contract and capital maintenance agreement for approximately 37 miles of new toll road for segments F1, F2 and G of the Grand Parkway (SH 99) in Harris and Montgomery counties.

Read more »

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TxDOT Podcast: Scott Belcher, Intelligent Transportation Society of America

The weekly TxDOT Podcast keeps you updated on the latest transportation news and issues, and new episodes are published every Friday on the TxDOT website, www.txdot.gov.

In this week’s episode, we talk with Scott Belcher, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, about the technology behind today’s and tomorrow’s intelligent transportation systems. (This episode originally aired in February 2012.) Episodes are also available on iTunes.

Listen to Podcast »

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