As part of a celebration of 100 years of service, Texas Department of Transportation presented a 1918 Liberty truck, given to them after World War II, as well as a snow plow and banners containing the history of TxDOT.
Maintaining and building infrastructure has been the long-term focus, but with new changes comes new challenges and now they have shifted focus towards transportation safety. Initially, the mission was simply to remove drivers from the mud of unpaved roads, now their initiative has surpassed celebrity campaigns, like the ones in 2001 sponsored by Stevie Ray Vaughn and Willie Nelson. When that Click it or ticket campaign began the compliance rate was only 72%, now it’s over 90.
The newest campaign is #endthestreaktx, an initiative to decrease the amount of highway fatalities. Since November 7, 2000, not one single day has passed in Texas without a driving fatality occurring. From January 1 to present day, over 1,070 people have lost their lives on the highway.
According to Irene Webster, Traffic Safety Specialist, last year there were over 3,700 driving fatalities. She explains, “ It has climbed a little bit and we are trying to reduce these numbers. More than 659 people move to Texas every day, its one of the fastest growing states and we need to improve the infrastructure in order to enable people to move here.”
“We improve conditions of the infrastructure, but now that the population is increasing, we are having to improve that pre-existing infrastructure. It’s kind of a catch 22, everyone wants to move here, but the funding just isn’t there.”
TxDOT does so much more than maintaining infrastructure, during 2011 they provided disaster relief during the snow storm. They also take environmental factors into consideration to help maintain the natural and archeological states.
“In Atlanta, Texas we have an environmental office that plans a road and the various routes then compares them over various natural and archeological variables.”
With over 80,000 miles of highway in Texas, the Texas Department of Transportation is more than just an entity that maintains infrastructure and highways, they are an essential organization that is focused on safety, education and environmental preservation.