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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

  • Labor Day Holiday: Drive Safely
  • Transportation Commission Actions
  • Commission's September Meeting Set for The Woodlands
  • Hurricane Season Continues, TxDOT Ready to Respond
  • Take the Austin Travel Survey
  • Privatizing Maintenance Could Save $120 Million
  • Final Phase of SH 550 Under Way
  • Port Aransas Ferry Art Contest Opens
  • TxDOT Leadership Appointments, Retirements
  • Drive Clean Across Texas Sweepstakes
  • TxDOT Podcast: Gilbert Jordan, TxDOT Prepared for Hurricane Season
  • Small Hr


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August 31, 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.

Editor's NoteMonday, Sep. 3, is Labor Day, so you are receiving the TxDOT Update early. TxDOT wishes you a happy holiday and reminds you to drive safely.

Labor Day Holiday: Drive Safely

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A dynamic message sign at I-35 and Howard Lane in Austin displays Texas traffic death toll for the year.

TxDOT is urging all motorists to put safety first this Labor Day holiday. Law enforcement statewide will work overtime during the long holiday weekend to curb drinking and driving. The crackdown on drunk drivers is part of TxDOT's "Drink. Drive. Go to Jail." campaign. Also, as a somber reminder to drivers that driving deserves their full attention, TxDOT is displaying the year-to-date number of traffic fatalities in Texas on more than 700 message signs throughout the state. The numbers are displayed one week of the month, typically the third week of each month. Finally, for the first time, TxDOT is asking people to pledge to choose a safe ride home by texting CHOOSE to 67664. Texans who make the pledge are entered to win a donated Honda Ruckus scooter and helmet.

Read more about TxDOT's safety programs »

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Transportation Commission Actions: Central Texas Toll Road Fees Waived for Vets

The Texas Transportation Commission convened Aug. 30 for its regular monthly meeting and took the following actions:

  • Approved waiving fees for disabled veterans, Purple Heart and Medal of Honor recipients on toll roads in Central Texas.
  • Adopted the pay-by-mail program for the Central Texas Turnpike System and other toll facilities operated by the department.
  • Gave final approval to allocating $197.6 million to the Central Regional Mobility Authority for construction of the MoPac Improvement Project in Austin.
  • Adopted TxDOT's Fiscal Year 2014-15 Legislative Appropriations Request.

Read more »

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Commission's September Meeting Set for The Woodlands

The Texas Transportation Commission will conduct its September meeting in The Woodlands, continuing a long tradition of taking the state’s business on the road to make it easier for Texans to participate in transportation decision-making. The meeting will take place at 9 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 27, at 2801 Technology Forest Boulevard and is open to the public. The Commission is expected to meet in the Dallas-Fort Worth area later in the year.

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Hurricane Season Continues, TxDOT Ready to Respond

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Hurricane Isaac, which made landfall in southeastern Louisiana Wednesday, serves as a powerful reminder that hurricane season continues through Nov. 30. Typically, more than half of all named storms occur during August and September. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration earlier this month raised its 2012 Atlantic hurricane forecast from a near-normal to an above-normal season, with 12 to 17 tropical storms and five to eight of those strengthening into hurricanes.

If a major 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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MoPac is one of Austin's most important roadways, serving as a key route to downtown and points beyond.

Take the Austin Travel Survey

TxDOT is working with the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) to learn more about how people travel around Austin.  Please tell them your opinion at www.austintravelsurvey.org. The results of this survey will be used to build and operate a better transportation system. The survey closes Saturday, Sept. 8.

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Privatizing Maintenance Could Save $120 Million

TxDOT will issue a request for information (RFI) to parties interested in performing routine maintenance on stretches of I-35 and I-45. Estimates show that privatizing maintenance on the corridors could save the department $120 million over five years. The work includes roadside mowing, litter removal, sign replacement and minor resurfacing. TxDOT is expected to issue the RFI in the coming weeks.

Read more »

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Final Phase of SH 550 Under Way

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The Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority (CCRMA), in partnership with TxDOT and the Cameron County Commissioners Court, recently broke ground on the third and final phase of the SH 550 project in Brownsville. The SH 550 corridor is CCRMA's first toll road. Once this final phase is completed, the 9.8-mile corridor will link US 77 at the north and SH 48 at the south to provide a direct entrance to the Port of Brownsville and connectivity to the Laguna Madre area. Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade, Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin III and TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson participated in the event.

Read more »

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Port Aransas Ferry Art Contest Opens

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Winning art from the 2011 contest ("Flounder" by Dinah Bowman on the right and "Reflections of the Gulf Coast" by Kati Piña on the left) is featured on the B.L. DeBerry vessel in the Port Aransas Ferry System.

The Third Annual Port Aransas Ferry Art Contest is open for entries. Winning artwork will be reproduced and featured on the towers of three vessels in the Port Aransas Ferry System. The contest is open to anyone and includes two categories — children (18 and younger) and adult (19 and older). The deadline for submitting original artwork is 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 31. Winners will be selected by the end of 2012.

To enter »

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Victoria L. Miller
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Richard J. Skopik
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Rick Collins

TxDOT Leadership Appointments, Retirements

TxDOT administration has announced new leadership appointments.

Victoria L. Miller is director of public strategies. Miller previously served as director of corporate affairs for the SH 130 Concession Company. In her new role, Miller will help advance awareness about TxDOT's priority projects.

Veronica R. Beyer is the new director of the Media Relations Section. Beyer most recently served as marketing administrator at the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and before that as TDA chief communications officer.

Also, two veteran TxDOT administrators have retired. Waco District Engineer Richard J. Skopik, P.E., a 34-year veteran, and Research and Technology Implementation Office Director Rick Collins, P.E., who had been with the department 29 years, retired, effective Aug. 31. Skopik oversaw the development of the I-35 expansion through Central Texas. Collins also most recently served as interim director of both the Bridge Division and the Strategic Planning and Performance Management Office.

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Drive Clean Across Texas Sweepstakes

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Don’t miss your chance to win a new Ford Fusion Hybrid. Enter the Drive Clean Across Texas online sweepstakes today!  The deadline for entering is Sept. 23. The statewide public outreach and education campaign encourages motorists to make cost-saving, no-cost and low-cost changes in their driving and vehicle maintenance behaviors to reduce harmful vehicle emissions — a major contributor to air pollution.  The low-emission 2012 Fusion Hybrid is donated by the Dallas Cowboys Football Club. Texas drivers ages 18 and up can enter.

To enter the sweepstakes »

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TxDOT Podcast: Gilbert Jordan, TxDOT Prepared for Hurricane Season

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 TxDOT's Emergency Management Coordinator Gilbert Jordan about how the department is prepared for hurricane season and other natural disasters, including wildfires and snow storms. (This episode originally aired in June 2012.) Episodes are also available on iTunes.

Listen to Podcast »

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