AUSTIN (KXAN) - In a gesture to honor those men and women who have made great personal sacrifices to ensure freedom and protect the nation, the Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday approved granting free passage for select veterans on several Texas toll roads.
The decision will benefit veterans who are either disabled or recipients of the Purple Heart and/or Congressional Medal of Honor.
In Central Texas, those toll roads where some veterans will be able to drive free of charge include:
- Loop 1
- State Highway 45 North
- State Highway 45 Southeast
- State Highway 130 (Segments 1-4) in the Austin area
- State Highway 255 near Laredo on the Camino Colombia
- Loop 49 in Tyler
House Bill 3139, passed by the Legislature in 2009 and enacted in the Transportation Code (Section 372.053), stated that the state's toll authorities may develop a discount program for various veterans.
Gov. Rick Perry recently called on the Transportation Commission to begin implementing a program that would help support Texas veterans getting around Texas with less financial burden.
"Our veterans are motivated by a higher calling that is rooted in the fundamental values of our nation," Gov. Perry said. "In Texas, we understand and appreciate the sacrifices the men and women of our armed forces make in defense of our freedom, and we consider it an honor to support them."
Currently, there are 7,360 specialty license plates indicating drivers are disabled vets, Purple Heart and Congressional Medal of Honor recipients in Travis, Williamson and Hays counties closest to the central Texas toll roads.
Statewide there are 160,666 similar specialty plates.
"We are able to celebrate our freedom each and every day due to the unwavering sacrifice of our military's brave men and women, so making it a bit easier for them to move through our great state is the least we can do," said Phil Wilson, executive director of TxDOT. "We thank Texas veterans for their service and hope the free use of our toll roads recognizes the price they paid for our freedom."
The latest estimates show the cost of managing this program to be less than $1 million annually.
The Transportation Commission has asked TxDOT to implement this program for qualified veterans by Jan. 1.
The judge presiding over the trial to oust District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg ruled Wednesday that she'll stay in office.
Mack Brown’s longtime friend and attorney said Wednesday that the veteran coach of the Longhorns has not yet made a decision on his future, but that it will come soon.
The Austin City Council will take up billing errors and problems with the appeals process at Austin Energy during Thursday's meeting.
Options for high speed Internet in Austin continue to expand. Google Fiber is coming to Austin soon, and now AT&T has announced the city will be the first for its own faster-than-ever Internet speeds.
A 15-year-old girl told police she was abducted from the parking lot at Bastrop High School on Wednesday.
After hundreds of park-goers complained about a lack of off-leash dog space in the new design of Auditorium Shores, the Austin Parks and Recreation Board is hoping a compromise will alleviate any concerns.