Texas freeways have been heavily traveled since their 1948 beginnings with a several-mile stretch of Houston's Gulf Freeway, and are often under construction to meet the demands of continuing growth. As of 2005, there were 79,535 miles of public highway in Texas (up from 71,000 in 1984). Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) planners have sought ways to reduce rush hour congestion, primarily through High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for vans and carpools. The "Texas T", an innovation originally introduced in Houston, is a ramp design that allows vehicles in the HOV lane, which is usually the center lane, to exit directly to transit centers or to enter the freeway directly into the HOV lane without crossing multiple lanes of traffic. Timed freeway entrances, which regulate the addition of cars to the freeway, are also common. Houston and San Antonio have extensive networks of freeway cameras linked to transit control centers to monitor and study traffic.
One characteristic of Texas's freeways are its frontage roads (also known as service roads, feeder roads, and access roads). Texas is the only state that widely constructs frontage/access roads along its highways even in the most remote areas. Frontage roads provide access to the freeway from businesses alongside, such as gas stations and retail stores, and vice versa. Alongside most freeways along with the frontage roads are two to four lanes in each direction parallel to the freeway permitting easy access to individual city streets. A TxDOT policy change now limits the frontage road construction for new highways, but the existing frontage will remain. New landscaping projects and a longstanding ban on new billboards are ways Houston has tried to control the potential side effects of convenience.
Another common characteristic found near Texas overpasses are the Texas U-turns which is a lane allowing cars traveling on one side of a one-way frontage road to U-turn into the opposite frontage road (typically crossing over or under a freeway or expressway) without being stopped by traffic lights or crossing the highway traffic at-grade.
In March 2011, Texas ranked as a bottom-ten "Worst" state (tied with Montana and North Dakota) in the American State Litter Scorecard, presented at the American Society for Public Administration national conference. The Lone Star State suffers from poor quality and effectiveness of public space cleanliness—including roadway and adjacent property litter/debris abatement—due to overall state and related eradication standards and public performance indicators.
United States highways
United States highways