Having trouble reading this e-mail? View it on your browser.
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

  • TxDOT Workers to the Rescue
  • Turn Around Don't Drown
  • Spring Break Filled Port Aransas Ferries
  • Commission Meeting Set for March 29
  • Tracking Wildflowers
  • Don't Mess with Texas Scholarship
  • I-35 McLennan County Project Groundbreaking
  • TxDOT Website Redesign Survey
  • New Faces at TxDOT
  • Fort Phantom Hill Visitors Center Under Way
  • TxDOT Podcast: Dr. Tim Lomax, Texas Transportation Institute
  • Small Hr


You can manage your subscription to TxDOT Update here.


Contact Us

125 East 11th St.
Austin, TX 78701
(800) 558-9368

Email Us

Follow Us

Facebook  Twitter  Transportation Podcasts  Transportation Videos

March 26, 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.


TxDOT Workers to the Rescue

Content Inline
TxDOT's Jason Dale helps a woman from a flood-stranded car.

Two longtime TxDOT Paris District workers rescued three women whose car was trapped March 20 on a flooded stretch of FM 1565 near Union Valley. After a heavy overnight downpour caused flash flooding throughout the northeast Texas district, Jason Dale and Dean Gatlin had set up barricades on this and other low-lying roadways earlier that morning. A few hours later, Dale and Gatlin, both with the Rains County Maintenance Office, had traveled back to FM 1565 to monitor the rising water, when they saw the stranded car and its driver waving for help.

They pulled their truck, equipped with a Tommy lift gate, alongside the car and lowered the gate. With Gatlin behind the steering wheel and Dale on the truck, they helped the women climb out of the car window onto the gate and drove them to safety. The driver explained that she thought the barricades indicated the driving lane was closed. So, she drove around the barricades into the oncoming lane, where her car quickly stalled in the flood waters. Once rescued, she borrowed Dale’s cellphone to call someone to come get her and her passengers. Dale has been with TxDOT for 22 years and Gatlin for 16 years.

Back to top

Turn Around Don't Drown

Content Inline

Never drive through flooded roadways. Just six inches of water can float some vehicles.  If you come to a flooded road, follow these Turn Around Don’t Drown safety tips. To find out if your road is closed due to weather, call (800) 452-9292 or view online

Back to top Hr

Spring Break Filled Port Aransas Ferries

Content Inline
Port Aransas ferries moved an average of 8,310 vehicles a day during spring break.

Spring break 2012 proved to be a busy time for TxDOT’s Port Aransas Ferry Operations, with a total of 86,717 vehicles boarding the vessels March 9-18. While cool, wet weather slowed traffic those first three days, the overall passenger count is a four percent increase over 2011 spring break. The busiest day was Saturday, March 17, when seven vessels carried 11,851 vehicles across the ship channel to and from Port Aransas beaches. The ferry system staff was prepared for an influx of passengers, with an eighth vessel on standby and crews working extended hours to address maintenance and safety issues. The week passed without emergencies and passengers enjoyed a new amenity, satellite radio. If you’re planning to visit Port Aransas, find out about ferry wait times on our live ferry webcams.

Back to top

Commission Meeting Set for March 29

The Texas Transportation Commission will convene for its regular monthly meeting at 9 a.m., Thursday, March 29. The meeting will take place at 200 East Riverside Drive, Room 1-A.1, in Austin. The Commission will hear a staff update on the recent receipt of qualification submittals from teams interested in entering a design-build contract for the Dallas Horseshoe Project, discuss the Texas Rural Transportation Plan and consider authorizing the creation of a surface transportation corporation to develop the Grand Parkway (SH 99) in Harris and Montgomery counties.

Read more »

Back to top

Tracking Wildflowers

Content Inline

If you’re looking for vivid displays of wildflowers along Texas roadways, TxDOT’s Wildflower Guide helps you find the most picturesque blooms around the state. The guide includes an interactive map that documents recent wildflower sightings, as well as information and photographs about the more than 5,000 species of flowers and native grasses on state roads. Also, call (800) 452-9292 for wildflower locales.

Back to top

Don't Mess with Texas Scholarship

Content Inline

Apply online today for a chance to win a $3,000 Don’t Mess with Texas Scholarship. The deadline for applications is April 20. The scholarship, sponsored by BASF Corporation in partnership with Keep Texas Beautiful, recognizes the achievements of Texas high school seniors who have taken leadership roles to prevent litter in their schools and/or communities. Any Texas high school senior planning to attend a Texas college or university and currently attending public, private or home school may apply. One $3,000 scholarship and two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to students planning to pursue a two- or four-year degree.

To apply »

Back to top

I-35 McLennan County Project Groundbreaking

Content Inline
U.S. Rep. Bill Flores speaks during the recent I-35 groundbreaking in McLennan County.

The I-35 expansion project in Central Texas continues to progress, as construction recently began on the newest segment of the roadway in McLennan County. U.S. Rep. Bill Flores and Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin III participated in the March 14 groundbreaking for the 10-mile stretch from north of Bruceville-Eddy to FM 2063 in Hewitt. Construction on this segment is expected to be complete by the end of 2015. The project is part of a 94-mile, $1.9 billion corridor expansion through Hill, McLennan, Falls and Bell counties.

Read more about the I-35 expansion »

Back to top

TxDOT Website Redesign Survey

Content Inline

We're redesigning our website and need your input to make it more user-friendly. Take our short online survey to help us determine what information you want and when you need it. Your responses will help us improve your experience at www.txdot.gov.

Take the survey »

Back to top

New Faces at TxDOT

TxDOT administration has announced some new leadership appointments in recent weeks. Brian Smallwood is TxDOT's director of operational excellence. In the newly created position, Smallwood oversees the department's reporting and analysis of strategic objectives and goals. He most recently served as the chief of strategic transformation, planning and innovation for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Lynn Isaak is director of the project management office, overseeing the planning, development and coordination of the department's project portfolio. Isaak has more than 20 years of diverse transportation engineering experience and previously served as construction group manager for Atkins North America, Inc.

Melisa Montemayor is the new Laredo District Administrator, where she oversees all operations for the eight-county district. A 16-year TxDOT veteran, Montemayor previously served as the district's advance transportation planning director. She succeeds Laredo District Engineer Albert Quintanilla, who retired last October.

Bob Bielek is the new El Paso District Engineer. Bielek has 42 years of experience in the planning, design and construction of transportation facilities, including highways, airports and mass transit. Most recently, he served as director of project delivery and city engineer for the Houston Airport System. Bielek succeeds Chuck Berry, who retired last August.

Back to top

Fort Phantom Hill Visitors Center Under Way

Content Inline
Fort Phantom Hill was built in the early 1850s to protect the westward-moving pioneers.

Construction crews recently broke ground on a visitors center at the Fort Phantom Hill historical site on FM 600 near Abilene. The project includes a covered information kiosk, driveway and parking lot, restrooms and other improvements. The project is being built through a federally funded program for nontraditional transportation-related enhancement projects. TxDOT administers the projects and coordinates the program with the Federal Highway Administration. Work is expected to be completed by midsummer.

Back to top

TxDOT Podcast: Dr. Tim Lomax, Texas Transportation Institute

The 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 Dr. Tim Lomax, research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute, about the 2011 Urban Mobility Report. (This episode originally aired in October 2011.) Episodes are also available on iTunes.

Listen to Podcast »

Back to top Hr

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