New Williamson County road and bridge director discusses road maintenance

Doug WoodallDoug Woodall was named the interim director of the Williamson County Road and Bridge Division on Jan. 17. He has lived in Round Rock for 30 years.


Woodall graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1983.  His career started with the Texas Department of
Transportation Midland Area Office. He later transferred to Austin, where he held several positions, including the design division’s director of field
coordination and the director of turnpike planning and development. Woodall retired as the Toll Operations Division director after a 31-year career with TxDOT.


His favorite activities include woodworking, traveling with his wife and helping his 12-year-old daughter with her Girl Scout projects.


Woodall was awarded three Excellence Awards by the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. Forest Creek Elementary School also named him 2014 Mentor of the Year for service to Round Rock ISD.


What is your department responsible for?


We maintain roadways throughout the county, including those in unincorporated subdivisions. From spring through fall, our main goal is shooting asphalt, filling potholes and resealing roads. When it’s too cold to lay asphalt, we can use a material called cold mix to level wheel ruts and road dips at just above freezing temperatures.


Every seven to 10 years, depending on usage, you need to seal-coat roadways to stop water from penetrating cracks in the pavement causing potholes. Pretty much, we’re anti-water. That also means keeping ditches and culverts cleared to let the water move on down its natural course.


Then we have an herbicide and tree-trimming crew and mowing crews. We make sure there’s mowing done so if cars pull off in an emergency, their engines don’t ignite a grass fire. There’s daily pickups of trash and dead
animals to keep the roads cle
ar and open and safe.


What is the importance of road maintenance?


If someone is traveling at the posted speed and they hit a pothole, they could lose control of their vehicle. Safety is always our No. 1 priority. No. 2 is pure economics. You could spend a dollar now or you can spend $15 down the road. If you’re spending $100,000 per lane per mile to rebuild a road, that gets real expensive real fast. So I maintain the county’s investment in the roadway system. My job is crucial in making sure the county avoids multimillion-dollar road construction projects caused by poor infrastructure quality.


The limited time I’ve been here, it seems like we’re all working hard for what’s best for county citizens as a whole.


Why should the rest of Williamson County care if you help cities with their projects?


Take me, for example. I live in Round Rock and have for almost 30 years. I work in Georgetown. I start off on a city of Round Rock road. I get on state highways to get to work, travel a bit on a county road and then I’m on the inner loop, which is incorporated into the city of Georgetown. So I’m traveling on four different entities just on my way to work. We’re just trying to get residents safely from point A to point B across Williamson County.


How do you try to minimize traffic during maintenance projects?


The seal-coat truck moves at a good pace, and we schedule it out of peak hours. When we finish a road, we get right off it. You can seal-coat many miles of roadway a day. Reconstruction projects are all torn up for months. Maintenance can do 10-12 miles in a day, and it’s open back up in hours.


Traffic impact is more of a concern on the east side of the county because of different soil types. I-35 divides the county on the Balcones Escarpment. You’ve got limestone rock and shallow soils on the west side and Blackland Prairie clay and deep soil on the east side. That prairie clay is acidic, which is great for growing crops but not so good for building roads. Because of the acidity, the soils expand, ruining roads, causing for more significant maintenance. In some instances, we would have to close the road down to partially reconstruct it.


What can residents do to make sure roads are maintained?


We can’t have an employee on every road in the county at all times, so call us if you’re aware of a pothole, debris or a dead animal in the roadway. We’ll have a crew out usually that same day. That’s the biggest thing we need from citizens.



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