The Texas Department of Transportation, in partnership with the El Paso Police Department, have launched bilingual public service announcements on social media reminding drivers of TxDOT’s free towing program.
“Towing stalled vehicles and vehicles involved in non-serious crashes has improved clearing times on I-10,” said TxDOT El Paso District Engineer Bob Bielek. “We have made a difference in shortening the length of traffic tie-ups.”
The program, in place since October of 2017, provides a free tow to motorists stranded on I-10 from Viscount to Thorn.
Due to construction, the majority of this portion of roadway has no shoulders and few exits, so vehicles blocking a lane pose a safety hazard and create greater congestion. Vehicles are towed to designated drop off points where people can address issues or await help.
The stretch encompasses the GO10 project, the Mesa Park Interchange project, a portion of the Border West Expressway project and the Braided Ramps project during peak rush hours: 6 – 9 a.m., and 4 – 7 p.m. Mesa Street from the downtown exit (east and west) to Doniphan and Mesa are also included in the program towing limits.
The towing initiative, implemented with safety in mind, has proved successful as nearly 2,000 vehicles have been towed, about 60 vehicles per week, since the program started. Motorists are reminded to check their tires and gas level in their car as flat tires and empty gas tanks are the top two reasons vehicles get towed.
Tow operators are activated by TxDOT staff inside the El Paso District’s Traffic Management System known as TransVista. The central network system is home to five full time employees that manage 78 Dynamic Message Boards (DMS) and 169 cameras on El Paso state roadways.
TransVista staff is also responsible for sending out email alerts on closures that are a result of roadwork, crashes, or incidents affecting traffic flow. The center recently expanded its hours of operation to better assist during current and projected high impact closures.
“TransVista is now staffed from 4 a.m.-10 p.m. to cover busy closure times for construction projects in progress,” said Bielek.
While we have some projects being completed at the end of the year, scheduled construction work will continue with new construction projects starting with the New Year.”
The towing program is programmed to run until first quarter 2019. TxDOT’s Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) program, a longer term, citywide initiative that will assist stranded motorists on major state roads with emergency situations such as flat tires and dead batteries, etc. is in the works. It is expected to be in place by mid-to-late 2019.