EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso District of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is looking to ease traffic congestion in heavy construction zones on I-10 and the Border Highway.
TxDOT is launching a new initiative that will provide free towing to cars that are stopped or stalled. Starting Monday, tow trucks will be on stand-by on I-10 from Cotton to Thorn during peak rush hours: 6-9 a.m., 4-7 p.m.
"Our objective is to get people off the road as quickly as we possibly can, both to protect and to make it safer for everybody," TxDOT District Engineer Bob Bielek said. "When a car runs out of gas, has a mechanical issue, or there's a minor accident, it really ties up traffic."
El Paso Towing signed a three-month, $68,000 contract to provide its services. The money came from a grant awarded to El Paso's Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
Bielek said the plan is to eventually bring back the The Highway Emergency Response Operators, or HEROS program which provided roadside assistance to motorists. The program was ended in 2010 due to lack of funding.
"We've been working with the MPO to try to get a new HEROS program through funding provided by the MPO, but because of all of the issues we've had out on I-10 we're trying to accelerate and get that jump started."
Drivers in West El Paso tell ABC-7 they're looking forward to the initiative.
"That's actually great. It'll get them off the road quicker. One of the things that I've seen when cars are stuck on the side of the road, that causes a lot of the congestion. I don't know if you have people rubber-necking or what not," Joey Gdovin said. "I think if you can get the car out of the way, it'll be helpful to people and the traffic situation."
Bielek said TxDOT employees will be monitoring cameras to see where vehicles are stalled, and they will call a tow truck. El Paso police will also be helping out if they see a driver. Drivers can also call 911, and police will let TxDOT know the driver's location.
Cars that have been abandoned will be towed to the northeast corner of I-10 and Mesa in West El Paso.