Stimulus Money Could Mean Road Repairs in West Texas

By Wyatt Goolsby

NewsWest 9

Work crews across the state are getting ready to turn dirt on some major road repairs. The Texas Department of Transportation is getting a chunk of change from the economic stimulus package.

"We've spent the last four months identifying projects that could fit into this stimulus package," TXDoT's Glen Larum told NewsWest 9.

Highway 137 in Martin County gets a lot of traffic. Now, it may be getting a facelift along with dozens of other highways in Howard, Pecos, Andrews, and Mitchell counties.

"The plans have been done, they've been sitting on the shelf," Larum explained. "We've just been waiting for the money."

Larum said other nearby counties like Midland and Ector will also see stimulus money used on roads, but he said at this point, the plans are still tentative.

Hector Flores has been studying West Texas roads for years, but he told NewsWest 9 the latest in technology makes it a lot easier.

"It's called a Profiler Rut system, and what that does is it measures the rut of the roads, the ride, smoothness, it also picks up cracks along the road. We can be driving up to 60 miles an hour and it can be pretty accurate," Flores explained.

From lasers in the front, to a camera outside, Flores said all the information is connected to a computer system inside the vehicle.

"Everything is generated in there, and it's a pretty neat system where we can generate these maps for our district," Flores added.

From there, Flores said the maps help engineers to figure out which roads to fix. With the technology, and now the funding in place, TXDoT officials said they plan to move forward.

"The criteria were laid out so that you know this is not just handing money out willy-nilly. It's meeting needs that have been identified as transportation needs in this district and across Texas," Larum said.

The exact list of roads here in West Texas is not finished yet. TXDoT commissioners in Austin will vote on a final list next week. In total, it's looking like that list could cost a little over a billion dollars state-wide.