1 Mar 2013, 1:46pm
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TexasHighwayMan.com turns 15!

Fifteen years ago today, I put my esoteric interest out for the world to see.  On March 1, 1998, the “Texas HighwayMan Pages” were born.  Just like today, I covered everything I knew about Texas roads and the San Antonio freeway system.  I still have that original site archived and wow, how things have changed, both in terms of the subject matter as well as in the quality of web publishing (and my skills in doing so.)  That first site looks so amateurish today: cheesy, grainy, and oftentimes animated (for no good reason other than I could) graphics, brightly colored and/or busy backgrounds, low-res photos, and a generally clunky layout.  But back then, that was cutting edge stuff.  That first site was hosted on express-news.net, back when the Express-News actually provided consumer Internet access.  About a month later, I added the Getting Around Germany section of my site, so I’ll be celebrating that anniversary im nächsten Monat.

Folks ask me why I put the site together and keep it up.  Well, the answer is that it’s the classic labor of love.  Although it seems like an esoteric topic, just about anyone who drives is interested in knowing what’s going on with the roads.  Being interested in transportation all my life, I had a lot of the answers to folks’ questions in my head or at least in a pile of old newspapers and other assorted planning documents in my closet, so I thought why not share it with the world?  And that’s what I’ve been doing for 15 years and plan to do for at least the next 15.

13 Mar 2010, 12:00pm
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Schematics are back!

Snippet of schematic showing I-10 at Loop 410

Snippet of schematic showing I-10 at Loop 410

A few years ago, I had schematics for most of the area’s freeways on my website.  They were rather crude, so a couple of years ago, I embarked on a project to upgrade them.  I got just one done (I-10 West) when I realized that the process of creating and maintaining them– especially given all the changes brought about by the massive amount of construction the past few years– just made them unwieldy and there was no way I would ever be able to get them all done.  So when I updated my site earlier this year, I dropped that lone schematic while I investigated a different method of doing them.  Finally, I think I have settled on a design that is substantially easier for me to put together and should be even easier to keep up-to-date, and one that is, frankly, easier to decipher and more informative than the old ones were.  Yesterday, I posted the first one, which also happens to be I-10 West.  Take a gander and let me know what you think.

24 Feb 2010, 2:29pm
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Video added to TexasHighwayMan.com

I-10 videoA couple of days ago, I mentioned an “exciting” new addition that I was working on for my website.  Well, “exciting” might have been a bit of an overstatement, but it’s an addition I’ve wanted to make for a while now.  That addition is videos of all the area freeways.  I recently purchased a suction-cup camera mount for the windshield and, after some test runs, completed the first two videos (I-10 West inbound and outbound) earlier this week.  Within the next couple of months, I hope to have all the city’s freeways filmed and posted.  These will replace the so-called “driver’s view” pics that I had started to do.  Shooting, editing, and posting the videos is a lot easier than a plethora of photos, so hopefully it will be easier for me to get the initial batch completed and also to keep them updated than it was going the photo route.

In addition, I’m going to use the videos to update my exit lists (much easier to do from a video than trying to write them down at 65 mph <g>) and also to build the new lane schematics (see the previous parenthetical note).  I hope to get those done in conjunction with each video, although I haven’t done I-10’s yet.

To keep the clips within the YouTube guidelines (and to make them a little more interesting), the playback will be at double-speed (or even 4x for the longest ones.)  I opted not to put a soundtrack over them; everyone has their idea of perfect “driving music”, so crank-up whatever you like to listen to when viewing them!

1 Jan 2010, 3:23pm
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New TexasHighwayMan.com online!

The new TexasHighwayMan.com

Happy New Year everyone!

Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been working almost daily on the big upgrade to my website, and I’m happy to announce that it’s done and now online!

more »

7 Dec 2009, 1:03pm
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TexasHighwayMan.com update coming soon

If you’ve visited my website lately, you’ve probably noticed that it hasn’t been updated in a while (since May in fact.) I’ve had a busy summer– a big project at work that invaded some of my free time, the duties of being the father of a now 14-month old (which I have loved every minute of), and the time I’ve invested into this new blog have all left precious little time for keeping-up my website.

However, the blessings of time-off for the holidays and some personal leave will allow me to completely update and overhaul my site, hopefully by New Year’s Day. In addition to updating all the information, I will be improving the design and format, dropping some obsolete pages, and slightly re-organizing the remaining pages to be more logical and easier to navigate. My companion site about Germany will see a similar face lift shortly thereafter.

So let me offer my apologies for allowing my site to go stale.  I hope you’ll enjoy the new site!

20 Nov 2009, 2:22pm
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New TransGuide site online

The new TransGuide website, as discussed in a previous post, is now online.

9 Nov 2009, 12:30pm
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New TransGuide website coming down the pike

TransGuide’s website, which won national accolades when it first debuted, is now over a decade old.  As an aside, yours truly had a small role in its development: I was asked by the programmer to design some elements for the maps, namely the highway shields and compass rose.  My original highway shields were replaced some years ago, but the compass rose still remains–but not for long.  Later this month, TxDOT will retire the venerable site and replace it with a more robust one with a slew of updated and improved features.  The new site will include a scalable map, allowing users to zoom in or out on any area of interest.  Users will also have the ability to toggle the various icons (cameras, signs, incidents, etc.) on and off and will finally have snapshots from all of the system’s cameras available rather than just the 30 or so cameras being accessed by TransGuide operators at any one time.  The new site will also provide the foundation for future improvements to include much-needed mobile phone/PDA capabilities, personalized traffic information, and a map-based view of planned lane closures.  You can preview the new site here.
New TransGuide website

New TransGuide website

System repairs and upgrades also coming

In addition to the website improvement, TxDOT also has awarded contracts for long-overdue maintenance of TransGuide’s field equipment.  I can’t tell you how many lane control signals and dynamic message signs are out of order, so news of these contracts is welcome.  Once the initial repair backlog is cleared, which is expected by the end of the year, the contractors will focus on preventive maintenance, upgrades to older and obsolete equipment, and maintaining a 95% uptime for all equipment.  TxDOT has budgeted $1.5 million annually for maintenance, although that amount will vary depending on needs and funding availability.

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3 Oct 2009, 8:16pm
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Transportation website makeovers

New airport website

New airport website

Two local transportation-related websites have gotten or are about to get long-overdue overhauls.  First, sometime last month, San Antonio International Airport launched their vastly improved website.  Besides being much more professional-looking, the new website is substantially easier to navigate, is less cluttered than the old one, and just works better overall.  Along with the new airport site is a companion site called “SAOnTheFly“, which is dedicated solely to the award-winning concessions program at the airport.  It’s here that I found the feature I like best– the very slick interactive terminal maps.  Congratulations to those involved in these new sites!

Another site getting a much-needed makeover soon is the TransGuide website.  Visiting their website, you’ll see a big “TransGuide website upgrade coming end of October 2009” banner with a “beta” preview of the site already online alongside the soon-to-be “legacy” site.  I’ll have more details of the new TransGuide site on a future posting.

 
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