Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Skimp on highways!

That's what the Austinist advocates. After discovering that TxDOT has increased its estimated cost for five new highways to $2.5 billion, the author states:
Here's an alternative that doesn't involve toll roads or raising the gas tax (although raising the gas tax would be great): don't build these new highways. Especially don't build the elevated expressway in Oak Hill at 290 and 71. If anything, the Fix290 plan is much better. Instead, spend the TxDOT budget fixing our existing bridges and roads and bring back funding for trail, beautification and tourist projects. Austin doesn't need any more highways.
Interesting. In the 1970s, city leaders decided that they didn't want Austin to grow too much, and the best way would be to avoid building more highways. Austin grew anyway, and we faced an expensive bout of highway building in the 1990s to compensate. Austin still doesn't have a decent east-west route. Now we get to see the logic recapitulated, and I don't expect the results to be any better. Pass the gas tax if we have to, but let's not stick our heads in the sand again.

Austinist: TXDOT: Local Highway Construction Estimate Now $2.5B

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1 comment:

Sal Costello said...

Sen. Kirk Watson and others are pushing a plan to shift Austin freeways to tollways.

Smarter options do exist.

In the short term, the $700 million tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on toll roads as Sen. Watson plans, but instead, our tax dollars intended for freeways should be spent on cost efficient non-toll solutions such as: Variable speed limits, ramp metering, HOV lanes without tolls, reversible/barriered lanes for peak periods, parkways (like, pass through financing, more arterial lane miles, better incident management and advance computerized control of traffic signals.

In the long term we must index the gas tax. The Texas Transportation Institute report states that more tolls are simply NOT needed - that indexing the gas tax and using the revenue to pay off bonds allows freeways to be built right now.

Once placed, the tolls will NEVER be removed from our public highways. In contrast, the Ledge has the opportunity to index the gas tax every two years.

Sal Costello
Founder of People for Efficient Transportation