A free program that helps stranded Central Texas motorists is being expanded again to include roadside assistance on I-35 on weekends.
The Highway Emergency Response Operator, or HERO, program assists motorists who need fuel, oil, water or air, need a flat tire changed or vehicle jump-started. HERO vehicles are also able to move stalled vehicles out of travel lanes to help with congestion.
Currently, motorists can call the HERO program for assistance on 138 miles of highways, including I-35, US 183, Hwy. 290, SH 71 and MoPac.
“Since October of last year, HERO has helped more than 15,000 motorists, including the changing of more than 1,300 tires,” TxDOT Austin District Engineer Terry McCoy said in a news release. “The HERO program has had a huge impact on drivers and we’re excited to see it expand.”
As part of the expanded program, the HERO program will also have a dedicated truck to remove debris from the roadway and another trailer to assist with lane closures that last more than two hours.
Expanding the program comes from the recent approval of $2.2 million by the Texas Transportation Commission, the governing board for TxDOT. The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization also shares in the $4.3 million annual cost. TxDOT has expanded the program twice in the last couple of years.
Last October, the HERO program grew to 24 vehicles and expanded from covering 68 miles of highways to 138 miles.
Motorists needing roadside assistance can call 512-974-HERO (4376) from 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Fri. on all HERO-patrolled highways and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.-Sun. on I-35.