Gov. Greg Abbott laid out his vision for the Texas Department of Transportation Wednesday — one focused on relieving the state's worst congestion and building new roads.
Speaking at the Brazoria County Transportation and Infrastructure Summit in Lake Jackson, Abbott said the state is making a "historic investment" in transportation.
"That's why today I am directing the Texas Transportation Commission to create a focused initiative to identify and address the state's most congested chokepoints and work with transportation planners to get new roads built swiftly and effectively," Abbott said, according to prepared remarks. "Together we can set a new standard for business growth and job creation by building a lot more roads both here in Brazoria County and across Texas."
The "directive" was not an executive order, according to Abbott's office. Its actual impact is not immediately clear but Tryon Lewis, chair of the Texas Transportation Commission that oversees TxDOT, suggested he and Abbott were on the same page.
“As Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, I want to thank Governor Abbott for his clear vision and leadership in tackling traffic congestion," Lewis said in a statement.
"I wholeheartedly embrace Governor Abbott’s initiative. I especially appreciate him laying the foundation for his initiative by working closely with the Legislature to provide an historic increase in transportation funding during the past legislative session. It is now up to TxDOT, working collaboratively with local communities, to execute on the Governor’s vision.”
A statewide community-organizing group Friday delivered a petition with more than 6,600 signatures to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw demanding action in the Sandra Bland case.
The Texas Organizing Project wants McCraw to fire the trooper who pulled over and arrested Bland and for his agency to improve training for its force.
Bland was found hanged in her Waller County Jail cell July 13, three days after the arrest. Bland's death contributed to a nationwide conversation about unlawful arrests, police brutality, mental health and race in the criminal justice system.
After the petition drop-off, organizers from the group met with McCraw for about an hour and 15 minutes to discuss the Bland case and re-emphasize its positions. The meeting was "productive" and "promising," said Daniel Barrera, the group's Dallas County communications coordinator.
A car crashed through the east gate to the Texas Capitol grounds early Wednesday morning in an incident that had officers chasing the injured driver around downtown Austin for a couple of hours afterward.
According to a statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Austin police stopped the driver of a Dodge Charger on Sixth Street about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. When the officer approached, the driver, later identified as Marcus Reynosa, 26, sped off.
About five minutes later, the car was again pulled over, this time by a DPS trooper near the Texas State Cemetery. The driver sped off again, crashing a few minutes later into the Capitol gate, driving onto the Capitol grounds and then hitting a tree. Reynosa fled, leading to a search by APD and DPS.
The chase came to an end around 5:30 a.m. when Reynosa was found in a backyard near 14th Street and Navasota Street. He was taken to the hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” as was a woman who had been in the passenger seat. Reynosa was charged with evading in a motor vehicle, DWI and failure to stop and render aid.
According to a report in the Austin American-Statesman, the damage to the fencing could take months to repair.