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TxDoT HERO program expands in central Texas

(Photo:Shutterstock/Roschetzky Photography)

For the first time since its inception, the Highway Emergency Response Operator, or HERO, patrol service program will be able to clear minor crashes from area roadways, in addition to helping stranded motorists, the Texas Department of Transportation announced during a news conference. The free roadside service is also being expanded to cover 138 miles along I-35, US 183, US 290, SH 71 and MoPac.

The current fleet is being increased from six to 24 trucks, to be put into service in three phases. Starting Oct. 16, 2017, newly designed HERO trucks will begin patrolling I-35 in Hays County and US 183 in Del Valle. On Dec. 4, 2017, additional trucks will begin patrolling I-35 from Georgetown to Kyle, and US 183 from Lakeline Mall Drive to US 290. On Jan. 1, 2018, the updated fleet will begin patrols on SH 71 and MoPac. (See attached map.)

Established in 2010, the HERO program, in partnership with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, began patrols along 34 miles of I-35, and has proven successful in providing assistance to stranded motorists and minimizing traffic delays throughout the Capital region. In 2015, the HERO program assisted more than 14,000 motorists. 

“Through assistance and congestion relief, this program is changing lives for the better,” said Hays County Commissioner and CAMPO Chairman Will Conley. “We are fortunate that we have the great partnerships in this region to make programs like HERO a reality.”

The new HERO trucks will be equipped with not only fuel and water for stranded motorists, but they will also have a digital message sign and camera that can send live images back to the Combined Transportation Emergency and Communications Center (CTECC), to help with incident management.

“Our vision for the HERO roadside assistance program is to improve safety and clear lanes quickly, so we can have a meaningful impact on travel time, while addressing congestion,” said Terry McCoy, Austin District Engineer. “We are excited to continue to improve upon the success of a program that has already changed so many lives for the better.”

The program is expected to cost $3.6 million per year. The price of the program will be shared between TxDOT and CAMPO. Serco, Inc. will manage and operate the HERO program. Motorists can call 512-974-HERO (4376) between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, if they need assistance.

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