None of us would have expected that after a devastating winter storm that a monsoon of rainfall would hit and return time and again throughout the month of May.
Many roads were closed due to flooding and some required repairs. Creeks and rivers were overflowing and ditches spilled into yards, businesses and homes. Area lakes opened flood gates to drain reservoirs that were at record highs. Even gardens were too muddy to begin summer harvests.
Now that rains have subsided, we find ourselves in a heat wave with near record highs, smothering humidity and storms beginning to build in the tropics. You gotta love East Texas weather. As a lot of us say, if you don’t like it give it a minute, it will change.
In the midst of this crazy weather, many of you are planning vacations for the first time in more than a year. As you plan, it’s important to stop and think about what it takes to stay safe while you travel and weather should always be a consideration. Another consideration should be that one of TxDOT’s busiest seasons for construction and maintenance is in full swing and you will encounter delays through our work zones.
As you plan your getaway, be sure to plan a stop at one or more of the 12 beautiful Travel Information Centers that TxDOT maintains throughout the state. As a girl, my family always stopped to enjoy the lunch Mom had packed for us. Dad studied the big maps for correct directions and my sister and I got a chance to run off some energy. Our travel centers today offer so much more than picnic tables. They are safe and secure locations, full of history, maps, free travel brochures and are staffed with professional travel counselors who want to help. Locate one along your way and refuel your body and mind.
I hope you always prepare for the unexpected when you travel. Coming upon a crash or a closed roadway could slow you down and have you sitting in traffic for a while. Remember to take water and snacks. Keep your vehicle fueled up and carry an emergency kit should you need it.
Young parents, traveling with children is a challenge that will take you to a whole different level of patience. Keep them busy and remember it is also their vacation. Make the trip fun and memorable. Talk to them about how Texas has nearly 73,000 centerline miles and more than 180,100 miles of paved interstate highways, US highways, state highways, loops, business routes, farm- or ranch-to-market roads, spurs and park roads. As you see the beautiful sites along the way, tell them TxDOT has built roads for more than 100 years and we continue to work daily to connect travelers to where they want to be.
Stay alert, stop and rest, buckle the seatbelts and stay safe while you travel. And one of the most important things to remember when you plan a trip is to put the phone away until you are safely stopped.
Happy and safe summer travels and I hope you make some wonderful memories.
Rhonda Oaks is a Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Transportation and resides in Lufkin.
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