The Texas Department of Transportation has made major progress addressing congestion in the state's busiest corridors, including Hwy. 183 in the DFW area, said Phil Wilson, the agency's executive director.
He gave the keynote introduction Feb. 18 on the first day of the eighth annual Texas Transportation Forum in downtown Austin. About 1,400 from throughout the state attended.
Wilson said safety is the department's No. 1 priority, and to that end it has completed more than 660 projects to widen overpasses, and add left-turn lanes and median barriers. He said the Texas A&M Transportation Institute reported that the improvements have saved about 183 lives and prevented 661 injuries per year.
"I truly believe when you focus on safety, you get better production, you get better results from people at the end of the day. Safety drives a lot of what we do," he said.
The agency's No. 2 focus is relieving congestion. Wilson said that in the last legislative session, state legislators authorized agreements for work along Hwy. 290, I-35 and SH 183 in Dallas and Hwy. 249 and Hwy. 288 in Houston. The projects also include expanding the work on the Grand Parkway toll road connecting I-10 to Hwy. 290 in Houston.
The state Transportation Commission on Jan. 31, approved a partnership with private industry to make $1.4 billion worth of improvements on Hwy. 183 from Hwy. 121 to I-35E.
The project to improve the Airport Freeway includes repair work as well as adding two managed lanes on 13.5 miles of the road, starting in 2014.
Hwy. 183 is on TxDOT's list of 100 Most Congested Roadways. The department says a quarter of all Metroplex travel is on the freeway, an average of 120,000 to 168,000 vehicles a day.
— Additional reporting by Judy Wiley