The 1918 TxDOT Liberty Truck was part of the surplus fleet from WWI fashioned into fleet vehicles used by Texas Highway Department crews.
The Texas Department of Transportation turned 100 years old on April 4, and celebrated with an employee event at its downtown Austin headquarters office located in the DeWitt Greer building at 125 E. 11th Street. The event featured a travelling exhibit with a refurbished 1918 Liberty Truck and a time capsule that included some interesting items that have been used in the agency's century-long history. The Centennial event highlighted the agency's ongoing mission of connecting Texans to what matters most — the people and places they love.
“We are extremely grateful for the century of support from our elected leaders and citizens who have helped us build one of the greatest transportation systems in the world,” said James Bass, TxDOT executive director. “As a long-time TxDOT employee, I have been blessed to know and work with so many extraordinary people who have helped shape the daily lives of all Texans. As we celebrate our past, we look forward to delivering new projects that will keep Texans moving for the next 100 years.”
As the state's economy and population continue to grow, TxDOT remains committed to meeting Texas' ongoing and ever-changing transportation needs. In the early 1900s, the goal was connecting farms and ranches to market; today, it's safely moving goods and a population of more than 27 million across a nation-leading 80,000 mi. of state-maintained roadways — even in the midst of historic growth in population and trade.
To commemorate this 100-year milestone, TxDOT invited the public to visit its centennial website (http://www.dot.state.tx.us/txdot100/). The public also is invited to “Track the Truck” and join in the celebration as a refurbished, 27-ft.-long 1918 Liberty Truck makes its way across the state as part of a traveling exhibit that tells the district-by-district story of the agency's 100-year history. Along with the truck, the exhibit will feature historical photos and a visual timeline highlighting significant dates and achievements.
“Our traveling centennial exhibit affords us a great opportunity to thank the public and share a uniquely historical perspective of how our roadways have evolved from their early beginnings into the expansive network we know today,” Bass said.
The TxDOT Story
Born as the Texas Highway Department on April 4, 1917, the earliest incarnation of the Texas Department of Transportation was tasked with a challenge that continues today — there's a lot of ground to cover in Texas.
In its first nine months, the Texas Highway Department registered nearly 200,000 automobiles and drew the first official map showing the routes of 8,865 mi. of improved roadways that would tie Texas together.
As Texas grew, so did the department's responsibilities. In the 1970s, its scope would stretch beyond roads and highways to local and regional public transit providers. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the agency was assigned additional duties, including aviation and railroads along with ports and waterways. It also was given a new identity — the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT for short.
Today, TxDOT continues to address the state's ongoing and growing transportation needs. From its humble beginnings of 10 employees and a 1918 construction project creating a 20-mi. road between Falfurrias and Encino to the world's first precast network arch bridge in Fort Worth, TxDOT has grown into one of the state's largest agencies with more than 11,000 team members maintaining 80,000 mi. of Texas roadways.
It's been a century of service and TxDOT looks forward to the next 100 years of connecting Texans to what matters most.