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TxDOT nixes never-used name for urban routes

Farewell UR 1093, we hardly knew you — mostly because we never knew you as anything but Westheimer.

State transportation officials this week killed a 23-year-old designation in Texas called Urban Road, meant to be the city version of farm-to-market road and ranch-to-market road.

The choice to nix the designation was easy: In the two decades it existed, no one ever used it and there is little evidence anyone ever wanted it.

“This would have meant us changing all of these signs across the state,” said Veronica Beyer, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation in Austin. “The public didn’t want this, so it never happened.”

Thirty Houston-area roads were set to switch from FM to UR designations, in theory, at least.

Classifying roads such as FM 1093, which is Westheimer outside Loop 610 in Harris County, as UR 1093 could have opened them up to additional funding because it would make them eligible for federal maintenance dollars aimed at cities, Beyer said.

No signs were ever erected, and it became clear no one was going to stop calling the roads what they always had, officials said in a written briefing for transportation commissioners. The only place the urban roads ever appeared was in the internal TxDOT roadway inventory.

Recently, someone noticed that and, to avoid confusion, asked transportation officials to kill the designation, which they did at their monthly meeting on Thursday.

“It is not going to change anything we do, it just gets (the designation) off the books,” said Peter Smith, TxDOT’s director of transportation planning and programming.

Even as Texas continues to urbanize and more state residents reside in cities and suburbs, its rural roots will remain.

“All farm to market roads will remain farm to market roads,” TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said.

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