I read the report after I read the KXAN article about it. Yes, I read it. I will give you perhaps too much credit and assume you at least read the KXAN story. I read the report’s introduction and skimmed the rest, then read all the Segment 3 parts (Segment 3 is my back yard). From the outset, taking the report at face value, I think it is as good an effort as can be expected and maybe even a good starting point for discussions. The goal is admirable and some of the ideas really are outside-the-box. . . and some of them are just plain dumb. It was part of the plan for the Committee to consider ideas based on merit rather than availability of funding, but this is (sigh) unrealistic. Funding must be considered, and we must DO SOMETHING about the fact that your Elected Heroes in Austin keep raiding the gas tax money to pay for General Fund projects!
They also did not consider feasibility, right-of-way, or environmental concerns. Well that’s fine, but when you go for the brass ring in this manner you will be 100% guaranteed to have your plans foiled by environmentalist whackos, property owners, and the sheer impracticability of some of your ideas. That lead me to not delete my initial reaction to the KXAN article:
This is stupid as [deleted].
For interstate and international traffic, we will need expanded rail capacity. We will need expanded automobile capacity in the city centers also. These are taken for granted in the following commentary. What I am on about is a few of the ideas specifically proposed for the Central Texas region (Segment 3).
It is also noteworthy that NOBODY will ride passenger rail in the near-to-mid term future. We will fight it the whole way, then a sub-optimal rail line will be used (see the current CapMetro example) and then it will be too late to do anything about it. Rail is a non-starter for passenger transport IN major cities in Texas. Freight rail: viable probably. Passenger rail: DOA, a financial boondogle doomed from the outset to failure.
“The I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee represents the most robust, direct and longestrunning public involvement effort in the history of transportation in Texas and is the first of its kind to be used in the nation”
That’s swell, but I listen to the news all day every day at work, and I had no idea most of these public involvement discussions were underway. I did hear about a couple of them . . . they took place during my commute time.
“The focus groups were comprised* of members of the general public that were recruited from the locations listed above. Participants were recruited via flyers, past recruitment lists, online advertising, newspaper advertising and posts to Facebook groups.
Nobody reads the newspaper. Only a freak show reads or joins a Facebook group or follows twitter for a STREET (note: freak shows tend to like light passenger rail for Austin). Nobody reads newspapers. Flyers are instant litter. Past recruitment lists will reflect a very small group indeed.
The Austin metro area has a million or so people. Highest attendance at one of their supposedly well-advertised workshops was 29. That would be in the high 0.002% range. If you can’t get a full 0.003% of the public to bother to attend, you need to turn off the lights, hang your head, tuck your tail and go home because you have FAILED to arouse the public’s interest.
This time make sure the people know you are doing it and can make it to the meetings! Otherwise, you only have the interest of people whose “thing” is transportation, and the loonie fringe. If you want considered thoughtful input from the rest of the community, spend a few bucks telling people about a website where they can go and submit and comment on ideas. Getting a few activists together at the Town Hall is so last-century.
“Use and improve upon technology, such as electronic signs, use of AM and FM radio frequencies, smart phone applications, and on-board vehicle communications systems to provide updated traffic information, alternate routes and other traffic management solutions to travelers
This is possibly a waste of time and money. Nobody listens for radio traffic alerts on a different station than they are already listening to . . . we sit in traffic and listen to our stations. On-board vehicle systems, really? In my old car? Mandated (paid by whom?) in your new car? And SMART PHONE apps? You want people to use their handhelds MORE in traffic? Signs and breaking in to the public airwaves on the most popular (or all) channels may be the way. Smart phone apps is not the way.
Discounted highway 130 toll fees for trucks? Unless the toll fee is LESS than the cost difference in diesel burned sitting in traffic ($3?) they will take the non-tolled non-$20 route! They are in business to deliver for lowest cost after all.
“Improve incident management and related agency coordination so that accidents and disabled vehicles can be cleared more quickly and delays can be minimized.”
This. It is an ongoing mystery why a fatal wreck in Houston is cleared in 10 minutes and a fender-bender in Austin shuts down the highway for two hours.
“Impose left lane restrictions for trucks through downtown areas and congested sections of I-35.”
Yes. This can be done immediately and it won’t cost a million dollars
“Consider double-tracking rail lines to accommodate more freight and intercity passenger rail, where feasible.”
Yes. Good luck with that through the “rich” side of town.
The Lone Star Rail line: We’ll alleviate freight rail traffic problems by eliminating a freight rail artery, and replace it with a non-used passenger line on the same track? Huh?
How do you plan on having people go around town to relieve congestion from intracity traffic? Or are you doing this for the tens of thousands of San Antonio-to-Dallas daily commuters?
A managed toll lane? On a highway already fully paid for by the people currently using it, TAKING AWAY a free lane of traffic?! R U Serious!? The people HOWLED when they started talking about taking away lanes of traffic and putting in tolled lanes when CAMPO was at it. Now you want to take away a free lane of traffic from one of the most heavily driven rush-hour highways in the nation? You want to actually make congestion on highway 35 WORSE by reducing free lanes of travel from three to TWO? What IDIOT thought this was a good idea? Now is the time to start writing your Elected Heroes to demand this does not happen.
I’m for taking the toll off 130 and redesignating it as the interstate, but what a stupid, stupid idea to reduce free lanes through the heart of downtown! Almost everyone I know avoids the toll roads because they are tolled, and they will avoid the tolled I-35 lanes also. Intracity truck traffic will pwn joo! I continue in my unenlightened state: How in the world does a managed toll lane on a previous free way reduce traffic?
Then they want to WIDEN the BRAND-SPANKING NEW 130? It’s a big, beautiful, EMPTY highway. I-35 congestion is daily commuters in the city. Simply removing the tolls won’t help I-35 during the heaviest congestion times, and the rest of the time traffic is very light. Moving interstate traffic to 130 is swell but I have severe doubts about the need to widen that highway in even the mid-term future!
If you want to talk about ADDING A LANE to IH-35 and making THAT a managed-toll or HOV lane, or double-decking IH-35 through Austin with added lanes, NOW you’re talking!
Upgrading 183 to a full freeway without all the lights would have a good effect. If it were a limited-access highway with surface streets the whole way through town (like IH-35 currently is) then that would be spiffing. If they have cantilevered elevated traffic lanes all the way through like on the North side of town, that could mean MORE lanes on the same footprint, even!
We currently have NO Southern California-style genuine multi-level highways. Why?
“Our current funding system is unsustainable”
These project ideas are expensive but that is already taken care of! Every gallon of gas and diesel sold is heavily taxed, and the legislature never spends a dime of that gas tax money on anything else but road projects . . . OH WAIT our Elected Heroes in Austin ROUTINELY BLOW ALL THE GAS TAX FUNDS ON NON_TRANSPORTATION B.S.! Pretty soon we’ll be out of money to maintain the roads . . . oh, wait! Spending the money we were gas-taxed with the ostensible goal of building and maintaining roads, as if it were regular general funds money, is unsustainable.
If the solutions proposed for Central Texas were any indication, the solutions proposed for the rest of the IH-35 corridor will also prove impracticable at best.
Thanks for trying.
* In this report, they repeatedly used “comprised” improperly, where they should have used “composed.” It’s a quibble, but a pet peeve of mine.