Although the following comment was submitted for the MoPac South plan, it is equally relevant to the issues with highways at the North End of town. Many thanks to Dave for letting us post his comments:
Peak oil, chronic drought and climate change are political and economic imperatives that we can no longer ignore, so the projected growth rate for MoPac South is highly questionable regardless of past growth. Not only is drought likely to constrain growth, likewise the price of driving is likely to result in a lot less driving. The “Purpose, Goals Needs and Objectives are basically circular justifications based upon questionable arguments.
We should be asking if adding capacity to fringe roadways helps us meet the future or should we instead be building high capacity transit systems, rail and bus, and funding frequent service so that the city and its suburbs grow denser around transit rather than perpetuating the unsustainable sprawl. Adding capacity to Mopac is begging the question of SH45 south, and that, in turn, raises what we want to encourage by way of our urban/suburban future.
Federal transportation policy, the Texas Constitution, TxDot and county transportation departments have a built-in bias for roads that’s killing us economically and environmentally. Instead we need to find the political leadership to build urban rail in the right place in the congested core and expand it from there with the goal of putting more people into the city around rail stops with denser mixed use development offering a range of housing for Austinites of every economic level.
For Austin’s suburbs, we need to take advantage of the opportunity IH35’s congestion has created by building not only Lone Star Rail, but commuter rail in the former MKT ROW rather than an elevated freeway through Pflugerville’s downtown that TxDot’s been planning behind closed doors. We need to direct growth into the existing Georgetown to San Antonio corridor, serve it with appropriate transit modes and quit trying to build in all directions at once. Neither business nor government can afford to operate in that manner. There has to be a plan that matches public goods to private needs in a rational affordable manner that serves the greater public good and the MoPac South plan doesn’t meet that criteria.
Texas Association for Public Transportation
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