New TxDOT director vows to address traffic woes

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — This month, Texas Department of Transportation Commissioners will consider a vote to provide additional funding to improve drive times in the major metro areas of Texas, including Austin. The infusion of $1.3 billion would provide some relief on Austin’s most congested highway.

“There are three different projects on Interstate 35 that would help the flow of traffic by adding additional capacity and making additional improvements. In addition to that, we’re looking at upgrading our traffic management system here in the Austin-area which would include upgraded cameras and dynamic message signs,” said James M. Bass, who became TXDOT’s new executive director on Jan. 1.

Bass said his agency is committed to delivering projects Texans need and deserve. Many drivers are disenchanted with the toll road system in Texas, arguing the state should buy the roads and convert them to free highways.

“There is a bill from the last session that asked us to gather information from the various toll entities in the state to gain an understanding and put in one location how much toll revenue is currently outstanding throughout the state of Texas, for us to consolidate that information and come up with and updated figure of what it would take to pay off all of that toll road debt. So that report is due at the end of August,” Bass said.

In 2015, KXAN investigated complaints about the TxTAG billing system. Some customers were receiving inaccurate bills and were faced with long wait times to get issues resolved. Bass says the TxTAG problems are being handled. “The customer service center has additional people answering the phones. It’s an issue where I get a daily report on the performance of the customer service line is. And since that initial wave and transition over there’s been great improvement in that area.”

The Texas Transportation Commission will take up the quarterly Unified Transportation Plan on Feb. 25.

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