Texas House Gives Final OK To 85 Mph Highway Bill & Midday Roundup
By KERA News & Wire Services
Dallas, TX – The Texas House has given final approval to a bill that could up the speed limit on some highways to 85 mph. The Texas Senate is considering a similar bill, which would make the state's speed limit the highest in the nation.
The measure by Brenham state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst won initial approval Wednesday. It's part of a larger transportation bill. Final approval came Thursday.
The bill would authorize the Texas Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit on designated lanes or entire stretches of roadway after doing engineering and traffic studies. Texas currently has more than 500 miles of interstate highways where the speed limit is 80 mph.
Critics have raised safety and fuel-saving concerns.
Prison officials hope devices find illegal phones
State corrections officials say a test of cell phone detection technology at a Southeast Texas prison where an inmate used a contraband phone when he escaped last month has encouraged them to move forward with plans to install the devices around the state.
Texas prisons director Rick Thaler said Friday a Florida firm recently spent more than two days at the Stiles Unit, outside Beaumont, and showed how its technology could find phones inside the prison.
Thaler says the next step is to put out a request for vendors who offer similar technology to see what they can provide the nation's second-largest prison system. He's hopeful devices can be in place by the end of the year.
Dallas electric cars drivers can get juiced faster
Electric car drivers who live in the Dallas area can get juiced much faster now.
NRG Energy on Friday unveiled its new fast-charging station that can add 30 miles of range to an electric car in as few as 10 minutes.
Texas already has dozens of charging stations in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and some suburbs.
All electric cars can be charged at those stations that add power in about four to eight hours, depending on the size and life left in the battery.
But NRG Energy's new station in Dallas is the state's first fast-charging station, a recharger with a 480-volt direct current.
Gov. Rick Perry was to discuss the future of the state's energy Friday at an event for NRG in Arlington.
West Texas wildfire burns 50,000 acres
More resources have been dispatched to battle a fast-moving West Texas wildfire that has scorched more than 50,000 acres.
The Texas Forest Service says that the sprawling fire north of Aspermont, located between Lubbock and Abilene, was not contained Friday. It was being fought by land and air.
The agency says tanker planes dropped more than 58,000 gallons of fire retardant Thursday, but the fire continued to spread, traveling 12 miles in less than four hours.
Texas Forest Service spokesman Alan Craft says two unoccupied homes have burned, but no towns are threatened.
Anticipated hot and dry conditions were expected to combine for a high fire danger this weekend.
Another West Texas wildfire burned Friday in Andrews County, blackening about 4,600 acres. No homes have been destroyed.
Director of Dallas Museum of Art stepping down
The Dallas Museum of Art says its director is stepping down in May for unspecified health reasons.
The museum said in a news release Friday that Bonnie Pitman will help with special projects through next April and assist in the search for a new director.
Pitman joined the museum in 2000 and assumed the role of director in 2008.
The museum says that Olivier Meslay will serve as interim director. Meslay currently leads the museum's departments of European and American art.