New TxDOT Head Will Focus on Traffic Safety, Alternative Modes

The Texas Transportation Commission's choice to run the Texas Department of Transportation is a former Marine Corps lieutenant general with a progressive take on the state's transportation challenges.
May 22, 2014, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"The Texas Department of Transportation’s new executive director [Joe Weber] says it’s going to take more than new roads to keep Texans traveling smoothly if population growth estimates prove true," reports Brandon Formby.

Instead, says Weber, the state will need to increase funding for commuter and freight projects. Weber is quoted directly in the article: "That’s going to be hard to do…That’s a cultural change."

"Some estimates project the state could double its population to more than 55 million residents in less than 40 years. TxDOT faces inadequate funding to maintain current state roads and build new highways to keep pace."

Weber also takes a progressive stance on traffic safety, saying it's "embarrassing" that 1,100 people have died in vehicle collisions so far this year.

Saying that transportation is about economic development, rather than just congestion, "Weber said that meeting transportation needs isn’t just about making sure Texans get to work. He said the future stability of the state’s economy will rely on businesses, workers and consumers being able to connect through all modes of transport."

If you're interested in learning more about Texas' freeway building tradition, and want to get an idea of the aforementioned culture Weber means to change, Robert Wilsonsky recently wrote up a book called Dallas-Fort Worth Freeways (available for free download). The article quotes author Oscar Slotboom directly: "One of the themes through the book is how influential the freeways have been in North Texas, empowering everything. They empower ambition, the things built besides the freeways, from Texas Instruments to NorthPark. So much of modern Dallas was built around the freeways and remains dependent upon the freeways. And I thought it was interesting how Dallas really is freeway-crazy. They party at their openings."

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Published on Sunday, May 18, 2014 in Dallas Morning News
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