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United States News

The Super Superhighway 1005

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-got-a-huge-convoy dept.
valdean writes "The state of Texas is seeking to build a 4,000-mile megahighway network between Oklahoma and Mexico, called the Trans-Texas Corridor. The highway will be up to a quarter-mile across, and include separate lanes for passenger vehicles, large trucks, freight railways, high-speed commuter railways, and infrastructure for utilities including water lines, oil and gas pipelines, electricity, and broadband. In a recent press release, the governor of Texas said it will 'forever change the way we build roads.' So much for scenic drives."
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The Super Superhighway

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  • Soooo... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by josh3736 (745265)
    What's wrong with Interstates?
    • Re:Soooo... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ranger96 (452365) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:00AM (#11216221)
      The main problem with Interstate 35 here in Texas (which is currently the main highway from Mexico north through Texas) is that it passes directly through San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas/Fort Worth, and all of the surrounding suburban sprawl. The Interstate has doubled as a high volume artery through all of these urban areas, with massive amounts of development surrounding them. Over many years, and accelerating rapidly post-NAFTA, the amount of truck traffic on I35 has caused (or at least been a major contributor to) gridlock in the urban areas.

      If the new super highway is planned and executed correctly (i.e. limited development along the route, avoid passing directly through urban areas, etc.), it could do a lot to help traffic problems in the cities. Also, from the conceptual pictures I've seen, it will be safer for both passenger vehicles and trucks, because they will be running on separate sets of lanes with their own entrance/exit ramps, etc.
      • Re:Soooo... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lucidwray (300955)
        Lets not glance over the fact that this highway is a privately funded TOLL ROAD. This article seems to skim right over that fact.

        financed mostly if not entirely with private money

        What that means boys and girls is that our b@$t@%d Governor Rick Perry is being backed by a very large group of construction companies (Cintra) and has 'selected' a proposal that will net him the most brownie points with a large company after he leaves office.

        The cooperation with the State of Texas just means that now the sta
      • Re:Soooo... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by winwar (114053) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:22AM (#11217827)
        "If the new super highway is planned and executed correctly (i.e. limited development along the route, avoid passing directly through urban areas, etc.), it could do a lot to help traffic problems in the cities."

        It won't happen. EVER. Building more roads will eventually lead to more traffic. Period. Sure, it may help in the short term.

        But, how do you prevent development along the route? If it is an ideal travel route, then it would be good to have warehouses/industrial areas. Okay, need exits. More exits mean more businesses (more profit if toll road....) Those businesses need employees. Build houses (or people commute). More businesses to cater to employees (gas stations, stores, restaurants....). Pretty soon you have a city around each exit.

        Well, now we have congestion around those exits, need new exits (private businesses rarely have problems getting them if they can get the money....) Rinse, lather, repeat.

        If you build a convenient route, you will get growth. The only way to prevent it, is to reduce its usefulness. A rather large catch-22....
        • Re:Soooo... (Score:4, Informative)

          by CreatureComfort (741652) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @10:24AM (#11218856)

          Actually it all depends on the initial planning. The whole point to the current design is to drastically limit the number of connecting ramps. The current design calls for designated rest-gas stops that only have access on and off the freeway lanes, no connections for local traffic, and ramps leading to other, existing freeways for access into the current commercial and industrial centers. Basically it would come up on the west side of say, DFW and to actually go into the metroplex, you would have to exit onto IH-20 or IH-30 to then get into town.

    • Re:Soooo... (Score:4, Funny)

      by akgunkel (567825) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:02AM (#11216245) Homepage Journal
      I live in Texas... People who haven't been here can't understand a phrase like "big as Texas." Going from El Paso to DFW via the interstate is like crossing interstellar space in the STS!

      Instead of the TTC we need Trans-Warp Conduits!
      • Re:Soooo... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by igny (716218)
        Have you been to Alaska?
    • Re:Soooo... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mingrassia (49175) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:31AM (#11216438)
      >> What's wrong with Interstates?

      Hearing people make comments like this always reminds me of Robert Moses and the proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway [wikipedia.org] and the Cross-Bronx Expressway [wikipedia.org].

      Most people don't stop to think about the destruction that occurs when building a highway. Indeed interstates are necessary, but they are often planned with little concern for historic preservation or the neighborhoods that they devastate.

      Think for a moment if Robert Moses [wikipedia.org] would have been successful in building the Lower Manhattan Expressway. Imagine [pbs.org] a NYC with no Greenwich Village, Soho, or Chinatown as we know it today.

      Granted we are talking about Texas :-) but I have to wonder what historically significant neighborhoods will be bulldozed to make this interstate happen.
  • Speedy Limit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by neoform (551705)
    any bets it'll still be something like 65mph..?
    • Ah the Speed Limit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ravenspear (756059) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @11:52PM (#11216165)
      The speed limit is an interesing thing though that varies with location.

      Here in Atlanta, we have some funny rules about that. It goes like this: If you aren't going at least 10 over then you are a fucking jackass and deserve to be run off the road. That is unless you are in the HOV lane. In that case you better be doing at least 20 over or you are fair game. Also, if you are in a small compact car, then you had better be going a lot faster than the average speed of SUVs on the same road, as they reserve the right to mow you over at any time they choose.

      Lastly, if you have a hummer, just FUCKING STOP PRETENDING THAT IT WILL HANDLE LIKE A VETTE! You'll sleep better and I promise your manhood won't suffer to much.

      Disclaimer: I'm not saying I agree with these rules. They are just what a majority of the local democracy has decided upon.
      • by evilviper (135110) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @02:32AM (#11217031) Journal
        If you aren't going at least 10 over then you are a fucking jackass and deserve to be run off the road.

        These rules are pretty much the same everywhere you go.

        The solution is simple to anyone that has given it some thought... When people are driving like idiots around you, and following too close, remove your foot from the gas pedal, and let your car slow to a crawl. This sends a very clear message to anyone who is behind you, and even if they don't back-off right away, they're much less likely to do it again. In addition, it provides greater safety for you, as the small distance between you and the car behind you becomes a safe following distance when you are only going 10MPH or so.

        When someone cuts you off, or is otherwise driving like an idiot, trying to get in-front of you, simply turn on your bright lights, and place your hand on the horn. Continue both until this person is no longer in-front of you. This has not only discourages people from doing such stupid things in the future, it has the added benefit of telling any police in the area exactly which vehicle deserves to be ticketed the most, and they usually oblige (even moreso when you also stop and give the officer a detailed acount of what you saw, and contact information in the event it goes to court).

        It's likely other people will notice what you are doing, and do the same when they are in the same situation. However, that is not required. After following these rules for just a few months, you will personally have made a huge difference in your local traffic patterns. Yes, when you personally discourage a handful of idiots, the effect spreads. Other people don't see idiots doing such stupid things anymore, so they also don't think of doing them. It's a snowball effect.
        • When you are the source of an accident due to your slowing down a lane of highway traffic, the state trooper on the scene is not going to be amused by your reasoning. That goes double if the highway happens to have a min. speed limit posted
        • by llefler (184847)
          After following those simple rules, you will be dead and no longer a problem on the highways.

          When people are driving like idiots around you, and following too close, remove your foot from the gas pedal, and let your car slow to a crawl.

          This encourages them to follow even closer. I have seen people driving the speed limit (70mph) on I-29 get tailgated by someone wanting to drive 80+. When the tailgator gets irritated, they move in, sometimes as close as 6 inches. Short of a dead stop, there is no way to
    • Re:Speedy Limit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drawfour (791912) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:21AM (#11216374)
      Well, if it's built with private funds and is run by private companies (requiring a toll or a "season pass" or whatever they want to do to pay for it), then why would law enforcement have ANY legal powers to enforce speeds? Police cannot come to my property and make sure that I'm driving at 35mph on my own property. Even if there were agreements in place that allowed the police to travel those roads to enforce speed limits, it would be a CIVIL penalty, as opposed to a CRIMINAL penalty. So failure to pay a "ticket" could result in a civil suit and/or termination of "season passes", but should not allow for termination of licenses or other things.

      Of course, additional laws could be passed to get around this, but on the surface, it seems that police should have no legal enforcing power for any speed limits.
      • Re:Speedy Limit (Score:5, Informative)

        by evilviper (135110) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @02:46AM (#11217093) Journal
        Well, if it's built with private funds and is run by private companies (requiring a toll or a "season pass" or whatever they want to do to pay for it), then why would law enforcement have ANY legal powers to enforce speeds?

        There are many reasons.

        The land rights upon which the freeway rests is still actually owned by the government.

        A speed limit is a safety issue, which doesn't start or stop on public property.

        Even if there were agreements in place that allowed the police to travel those roads to enforce speed limits, it would be a CIVIL penalty, as opposed to a CRIMINAL penalty.

        Bull. Far too many people have NO idea where criminal law ends, and civil law starts. Even if it was privately-owned land, that doesn't mean laws broken on it are civil, rather than criminal. Shoplifting happens on private property, and involving private property, but it's still a criminal offense. Police have raided the homes of Cable-Modem uncappers, and arrested them on criminal charges. Don't pretend to be a lawyer, when you don't know what you are talking about.
        • Re:Speedy Limit (Score:3, Informative)

          by drawfour (791912)
          If you read the state law codes, you will likely find that speed limits are enforced on PUBLIC roads. That posted speed limits are for PUBLIC roads and highways.

          In my state (Washington), all laws use the word "highway". The legal defintion of "highway" is: "Highway means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel." This is RCW 46.04.197 [wa.gov]. Please note the wording. It's the entire wi
        • Re:Speedy Limit (Score:3, Interesting)

          by JimBobJoe (2758)
          There are many reasons.

          Actually they aren't any. The original poster was correct. As I said here [slashdot.org] the Ohio Turnpike Commission, a private non-profit who owns and maintains the Ohio Turnpike, specifically grants the Ohio Highway Patrol the power to enforce the speed limits the OTC has codified. These speed limits are different from those the state has established for its own publicly owned interstates.

          The OTC could tell the Highway Patrol to buzz off and raise speed limit to 125MPH, if it so desired.
      • How it works (Score:4, Informative)

        by MickLinux (579158) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:22AM (#11217528) Journal
        I think they'd run it the way the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is run. That is, you first contract with the state for the rights, and for jurisdiction of a special court district.

        Once you have done that, then you have legal jurisdiction though no highway.

        Then, you put out bonds, just as any city does (there's your private investment). Once the bonds are out, then you build the highway. Finally, you set up toll gates or whatnot to pay back the money to the investors.

        Along the way (for the CBBT) as I remember, the CBBT did default on its bonds, making them technically worthless for about 3 years, but let the investors know "do not part with these, because we're going to repay them." After something like 3 years, they had managed to restructure their debt, and went back to full repayment. Finally, they paid everything off, and then within 5 years were back building another lane.

        Current cost per 17-mile trip? $8.50 per vehicle axle. People still find it to be worthwhile, because it cuts out 350 miles of round trip. However, I'm not so sure that the same could be said for a mega highway.

  • by PrvtBurrito (557287) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @11:44PM (#11216086)
    this must be that giant sucking sound Ross Perot was referring to.
  • by rueger (210566) * on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @11:45PM (#11216096) Homepage
    Wow, am I alone in being reminded of the classic Robert Heinlein [heinleinsociety.org] story The Roads Must Roll? [wikipedia.org]

    The Heinlein concordance [heinleinsociety.org] describes the Diego-Reno Roadtown

    (It was a ) Motorized roadway that connected San Diego, California, and Reno, Nevada, on and around which a metropolitan area grew up; its terminal was called Diego Circle. The automated roads themselves were large enough to accommodate restaurants and other businesses, as well as the engineers' offices.
    • True... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by abb3w (696381)

      And His Imperial Majesty, Norton I, by Grace of God Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico, ordered a bridge be built across San Francisco bay more or less where the Bay Bridge now runs... which just shows interesting lunatics sometimes have interesting ideas. =)

    • by putaro (235078)
      Ummmm...hello? Have you read "The Roads Must Roll"? The road Heinlein described was a suped-up conveyor belt, not a roadway.
      • by smithmc (451373) *

        Ummmm...hello? Have you read "The Roads Must Roll"? The road Heinlein described was a suped-up conveyor belt, not a roadway.

        OK, then how 'bout the fenced-off superduperhighway in Job: A Comedy of Justice? That one was in Texas, even, IIRC.

  • by gorbachev (512743) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @11:45PM (#11216097) Homepage
    yiihaaa!
    • We believe in a completely Paved Earth.

      Earth is cursed with trees, shrubs, grass, and scurrying creatures. With every breath We act to right this terrible wrong.

      We believe in The Plan (tm).

      The Plan (tm) is the final word; it brings us the knowledge of the twin pleasures: Speed and Convenience.

      We believe food should be enjoyed.

      "Nutrition" is an aberration of human nature. The juicy Burger and hearty Beer are Our sacrament.

      We believe in the Depletion of scarce natural resources.

      Some see the vess

  • Well that's great for texas, but in my state the houses are built pretty close to the highway. There's no way we could build something like this. For most states, this is not an option.
    • Re:Fine and Dandy (Score:3, Informative)

      by Staplerh (806722)
      From the article:

      Officials promise property owners will be fairly compensated for any land seized.

      I suppose they would seize them? Of course, it'd be a lot of different property owners to deal with, rather than just a few farmers.

      Interesting that there is a capacity to seize land, especially in the United States where the right to property seems so enshrined in your constitution? I'll have to look into this further.
      • Re:Fine and Dandy (Score:5, Informative)

        by BurritoWarrior (90481) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @11:58PM (#11216209)
        Interesting that there is a capacity to seize land, especially in the United States where the right to property seems so enshrined in your constitution? I'll have to look into this further.

        Two words: eminent domain.

        • Re:Fine and Dandy (Score:5, Informative)

          by Zapman (2662) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:20AM (#11216365)
          The right to property isn't in the Constitution, but it is in the Declaration of Independance. In the Bill of Rights, the fifth ammendment has this:

          "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

          Basically, the Founding Fathers knew that people would claim land that the Government would find too useful to pass up. So they put this piece into the Bill of Rights. This is called Eminent Domain. The government decides that it needs a piece of land, determines a fair value for it, and gives you the money, and you have to leave.

          Now, this is is probematic on occasion because 'Just Compensation" isn't defined in the constitution, and it is up to the government to decide what is 'just'. You (sometimes) can sue for more money, but it's a real challenge in the courts.

          Eminent Domain is something that governments need. The problem is balance.
          • Re:Fine and Dandy (Score:5, Informative)

            by MickLinux (579158) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:17AM (#11217520) Journal
            From what I've seen of Harrisonburg, VA, when they were building the Justice building, the formula for "just compensation" is actually rather easy.

            When the city has 3 times the parking it will need in the next 20 years, and city council members have just contracted to sell more empty lots to the city as parking, and the purchase price was $15,000: just compensation is $120k. When the property is a thriving restaurant located in hte heart of downtown (specifically the Old Virginia Ham Cafe, now nonexistant), and the replacement/relocation cost runs about $250k, just compensation is $10k.

            This is the essence of emminent domain, as far as I can tell: I take what you have in the name of my power. In practical application, it doesn't sound to me any different than carjacking.

      • Re:Fine and Dandy (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SpacePunk (17960)
        "Interesting that there is a capacity to seize land, especially in the United States where the right to property seems so enshrined in your constitution? I'll have to look into this further."

        No need to look. There's no such thing as 'property rights' in the United States. Generally citizens 'rent' land from the local municpalities in the form of taxes. Don't pay your taxes, lose your land. Those that run traditional protection rackets should be proud.

  • Traffic jams? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dmuth (14143) <doug.muth+slashdot @ g m ail.com> on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @11:48PM (#11216116) Homepage Journal
    I am curious... will this "super superhigway" have fewer traffic jams or more traffic jams than traditional highways? Sure, there will be more lanes, but if some stupid driver decides to cut across 5 lines of traffic to try and make an exit and causes a 500 car pileup, how badly will traffic be affected?

    Here's something else to think about: rest stops. They'll have to be HUGE. Like shopping malls. That could certainly be interesting.

  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grey Ninja (739021) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @11:48PM (#11216117) Homepage Journal
    I mean.... why? Why would you possibly need such a road? It seems incredibly wasteful to me, and nothing more than someone trying to overcompensate.
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by silentbozo (542534) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:05AM (#11216260) Journal
      Well, you could look at it this way: rather than siezing miles of right of way in bits and pieces, owned by dozens of entities, criscrossing the countryside and each requiring access rodes, utilities, etc., for gas, electricity, water, cable, fiber, roads, freight/passenger rail, and busways, just squish 'em into one structure, save space and time, and make that the backbone you can then hang everything else off of.

      The question is, will sound urban planning be used to then maximize the potential of the mega-road to connect communities without disrupting the countryside, or will the road be used instead to facilitate massive sprawl?

      Any implementation of a road that spans a quarter-mile in width is going to need sections that are either elevated or underground, or else you're going to have issues with wildlife and drainage...
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Megane (129182)
      Because thanks to NAFTA, I-35 is bursting at the seams, especially in Austin. And with the exception of one three-mile section currently under construction, it is now at least six lanes wide all the way from south of San Antonio to far north of Austin, well over 100 miles. That's why the first section of this is already under construction, as a bypass toll road around Austin.
  • Scenic Texas (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thedogcow (694111)
    I live in Houston. Its flat, its trafficky, humid, the picture perfect example of urban sprawl with no zoning plans (i.e. porn-shop-next-to-a-church-next-to-a-liquor-store) .

    Lets face it. Texas is mostly not an attractive state. Maybe west Texas is a bit more interesting but it is loaded with scary folk. At least Houstonians don't really represent a "Texan".
  • by Staplerh (806722) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @11:50PM (#11216139) Homepage
    On the surface, I was inclined to say that this is a good idea - centralization seems to be the way of the day, and centralizing all these services in one superhighway could work. It'll revitalize the area that the superhighway goes through, much like the trains of the 1800s.

    That being said, there is a lot of reluctance to this project. Despite what the governor claims, this most certainly isn't a repeat of the Eisenhower-era Interstate project. It's probably just an opportunity for private corporations to enter the arena of mass transportation.. they would get some sort of rights over the variety of communications means that course through this privately-owned and made superhighways.

    The article refers to the use of private tolls to sustain this. Clearly, these investing businesses have done an analysis and realized that they can profit off this - despite its 'whopping' $175 bn price tag.

    This project would change the shape of the areas affected. New areas along the 'superhighway', and the areas that didn't get included... It would be interesting to see if this project goes ahead, and if towns then lobby in order to have access to the highway.
    • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:35AM (#11216462) Homepage
      That being said, there is a lot of reluctance to this project.

      If you're so opposed to this modern development, why don't you just go live in the middle of nowhere, like out in the plains of... uh.. never mind.
    • Eminent Domain (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Theseus192 (787156) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @09:20AM (#11218353)

      The thing that galls me about this plan is they're talking about using Eminent Domain to appropriate people's land, and then hand that land over to a private company (a foreign owned one no less). Yes, the government can force people to sell land for public use but till recently that has meant state parks, military bases, and such - not private development.

      How much do you want to bet the developer is going to recoup their $175 billion investment by snatching up a 10-mile wide swath of what is now farm and ranch land, but will later be prime commercial real estate - and every possible access point to the superhighway - if this plan goes through.

      • Re:Eminent Domain (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ivan256 (17499) *
        till recently that has meant state parks, military bases, and...

        And roads...

        In Connecticut about 40 years ago, before the I-84 and I-91 interchange in downtown Hartford, the state used eminent domain to take a strip of land that stretched from New Britain to West Hartford then south to Wethersfield (about 20 miles through densely populated citys) to build a road. They built most of the road, but it was never opened because it ran close to a neighborhood who's residents managed to win a lawsuit claiming t
  • by vanboy (595995) <`ude.ellivsiuol' `ta' `ssog.ydna'> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:01AM (#11216226)
    "Some thought the Trans-Texas Corridor was a pie-in-the-sky idea that would never see the light of day," said Perry, who has compared his plan to the interstate highway system started during the Eisenhower administration. "We have seen the future, and it's here today."
    He must not have seen Back to the Future. Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.
  • Some more details... (Score:4, Informative)

    by mbourgon (186257) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:02AM (#11216236) Homepage
    I read an article about it last week.

    Cintra is ponying up all the money for this project. The State of Texas will pay nothing. And gets the ability to take over tolls in 50 years.

    It will go south, around the east side of Dallas, and around the east side of Austin.

    Tolls are expected to be about what current tolls are, which means (according to the Star Telegram, at least) to drive the whole thing will cost about $40. Seems like a lot, but it isn't - truck drivers have to routinely sit in Dallas/Fort Worth traffic, which probably costs an hour's worth of time. Same with Austin.

    I don't particularly feel sorry for the small towns - usually, the town builds up around the road, and once they have several hundred people, drop the speed limit to 45 while going through their town. Thanks, guys. Not.

    Oh, and the speed limit's supposed to be 85.

    I'm really looking forward to it. For those of you who think this is minor, it's not. The drive from Mexico to Oklahoma is probably 10 hours - DFW is about an hour south from Oklahoma, 3 hours from Austin, and probably 8 from the border. Yes, Texas is big.
    • by nysus (162232) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:12AM (#11216304)
      Yeah, and I suppose Cintra is paying for the high profile PR campaign and web site [keeptexasmoving.com] for this project, right?

      Let me clue you in a little bit about how privatization works: Corporations leverage public resources to guarantee profits at taxpayers' expense with very little oversight. That is, they walk away with bags full of taxpayer dollars and the politicians that let them do it get rewared with cushy jobs also at taxpayer's expense).

      If this is such a great money-making idea, why not get a loan from the federal government and make it happen? Tom Delay could certainly bring home that bacon if he wanted to.

      This is nothing but a big fucking money grab, son. Yee-haw.
    • by DAldredge (2353)
      So am I to understand that the Private Company building this will not use the Ememint Domain powers of the State to force people to sell them their property at below market values?

  • by BrynM (217883) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:06AM (#11216269) Homepage Journal
    The site promoting this is trying to be too many things to too many demographics with far too much feel-good speak...
    • Transportation routes for hazardous materials must avoid population centers whenever possible. Like... Um... A major highway? The proposed route [keeptexasmoving.com] passes through the heart of the most populated [keeptexasmoving.com] areas
    • TTC will help... allowing faster, safer and more reliable movement of people and goods... To Mexico? creating jobs and attracting businesses that benefit by having access to an efficient transportation network ... To be closer to the hazardous waste routes?
    • The estimated total cost for the system ranges from $145.2 billion to $183.5 billion. Public-private partnerships, which bring funding resources from the private sector, will play a key role in constructing and financing the system. Other options include leasing right of way, toll revenues, and state and federal funds. Leased right of way? Tolls? The Profit Superhighway. Think of who's friends will land those building contracts...
    • Will other projects suffer if the Trans-Texas Corridor becomes the top priority?... Maintaining the current highway system will continue to be our top priority. Those are from two seprate things in the FAQ. Incredibly, they are not related. In context [keeptexasmoving.com], the seem to contradict. I'm betting two seperate people wrote these parts using "priority" as a buzzword. "Need" also has a prominant place in the FAQ.
    • The TTC will serve as a new delivery system to many communities across the state. For goods from Mexico? For immigrants from mexico?
    I realize that I'm being a bit harsh, but I'm really skeptical of this. The information site actually has very few facts. The focus seems to be commerce rather than quality of life. They use too many "nicey words" to back up their ideas. I'm still pouring through the site trying to keep an open mind for something I think could actually be really useful and cool, but my geek-sense says not to trust it.
  • All this rhetoric sounds fairly familiar. That's because about ten years ago Texas formed a "High Speed Rail Commission" to study THAT proposal. The end result was that a lot of bureaucrats got very fat salaries to study the proposal while it withered on the vine. This is an even more grandiose boondoggle, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the same special interests behind it. (Note that this is from a .com address, not a .gov address.) The funding and interest from the public at large simply aren't there. Right now there's a semi-revolt brewing over plans to turn highways previously constructed and paid for with bond money into toll roads. (I'm all for making new highways toll roads to pay for their construction, but screw double taxation.)

    The real chances of this getting built are pretty close to zero.

  • by Serk (17156) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:11AM (#11216298) Homepage
    I just learned about this from the Slashdot story, and I'm a Texan right in the path of this monstrosity...
    A little Googling around and I found that those opposed to this thing have also organized, and can be found at http://www.corridorwatch.org
    I haven't 100% made my mind up on this yet, but the fact that it's a toll road REALLY leaves a bad taste in my mouth, all the new roads being built around here are toll now, and that's a major annoyance of mine.

    Anyway, I found that site describing the opposing viewpoint, and figured I'd pass it on...
  • Trucking is much less efficient than rail transportation for long distances. This proposal does at least include freight lines, but it still assumes that a large part of the trade is going to be carried on highways. Shouldn't we be building up the railway system and trying to shift long-distance freight away from trucks to the railways?

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:22AM (#11216388)
    The article suggests that the highway will be built with private funds, and the "operators" of the highway will charge tolls to recover their investment.

    One assumes that the "recovery" of the investment will net a positive return on investment - PROFIT.

    The article also states that some people stand to lose their property under "eminent domain" laws.

    The logical conclusion of this: The government is seizing private property and making it available for use by the private sector. This seems like an improper transfer of wealth.

    Eminent domain laws were designed to allow a government to seize property for the benefit of it's constituents. These laws were not intended for the benefit of a few "shareholders".

    Investors in this highway should beware of warping this law. The next property seized and given away might be their own.

    -ted
  • by MikeyO (99577) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:36AM (#11216469) Homepage
    UGH,

    If its going to be a quater mile wide, couldn't they devote 8-10 feet of it for pedestrians and bicycles? Wouldn't even have to be 8-10 feet of paved road, just 8-10 feet of dirt. What's worse is that they even call this a "Multi-use" roadway. Well hopefully this will keep more cars off the secondary roads to leave more room for bicycles.
    • I noticed that the 6 replies (at this time) to your posting were negative on this idea, while not ONE of them took into consideration that perhaps, just maybe, single-person ultralight vehicles may come into use in the future and share the right-of-way with the currently-planned monstrosity that caters only to equally monstrous vehicles. Such ultralights would require their own lanes, essentially like bike paths do now.

      That's American thinking in a nutshell: cars, cars, trucks, cars ... and oh by the w
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:55AM (#11216566)
    Excuse me, but how many of you have driven through northern Texas and Oklahoma?

    I have, and there a darn good reason why the abbeviation for Oklahoma is "OK" and not "GREAT".

    • by evilviper (135110) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:46AM (#11216802) Journal
      I've driven most of the way across the country several times, myself. You want to talk about tedious driving? Try leaving California on interstate 40 (the same freeway that goes through Texas and Oklahoma)...

      Around Needles, CA, there's a stretch of about 100 mile or so, and driving through it at 75MPH I'd swear it takes 12 hours every time.

      I wish I knew how the human mind worked. It's not the boring, repetitive scenery, because a long drive through Death Valley has less scenery, and is far less painful.
  • by gregwbrooks (512319) * <gregb@nOSpAm.west-third.com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:10AM (#11216638)
    I was involved with the 91 Express Lanes [91expresslanes.com], the first toll road in the world that was fully automated (no toll booths) and privately financed.

    It was a good project -- neither the state nor the county had funds to improve one of the single most congested segments of freeway in the country, and there were no good alternate routes. There was, however, a median, which a private company leased from the state for a nominal fee. They built toll lanes on their own nickel (well, Wall Street bond buyers' nickels) and opened for business. The deal, as they're proposing in Texas, was for the road to be privately run for 30 years and then turned over to the state, which would be able to continue to charge tolls.

    The road's been open for less than a decade and although it's been a big success in terms added traffic capacity, there are some lessons no one expected:

    • No franchise agreement is so bulletproof that it can survive long-term, organized political pressure. Today, the Express Lanes are owned by the regional transportation authority. Why? Because politicians didn't like the fact that they didn't own the road and couldn't use it as a political football. So, a region that didn't have money to build it in the first place found the money to create a new ownership entity and buy the road back from its private-sector owners. (Who made a nice profit along the way.)
    • There's huge market potential for "open sourcing" traffic and tolling models. No company is going to pursue a project like the Texas one -- or even the merely $125 million Express Lanes effort -- by simply opening up their own pocketbook. Most of the money comes from bonds sold against future toll revenues, and the buyers of those bonds want rock-solid tolling and revenue estimates. Several companies do this, but even the best ones (like these guys [wilbursmith.com] make spectacularly expensive mistakes AND get away with using proprietary, "black-box" methodologies. Wall Street is always going to like expensive consultants; if some academics, geeks and economists could provide an open model that Wall Street could test against, there would be money to be made -- and fewer mistakes.
    • There are years and years when things can get easily fsck'd up before construction ever starts. Once you get a road like this open, everyone loves it -- even people who swear they'll never use it benefit because the new facility takes traffic off of existing roads. But long before you get to that point, it's not an exaggeraton to say that every neighborhood group, ambitious city council member or lawyer looking for tort income will come after you.


  • by brolewis (712511) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:18AM (#11216663)
    Am I the only one who noticed along side this proposed mega-highway is a proposal for Interstate I-69? I can already see a rash of sign thefts occuring as soon as they are put up.
  • by innerweb (721995) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:27AM (#11217217)
    What I really see here is a way for companies to use emminent domain to pull a railroad robber baron move. The government has a right to grab citizens' land for its use if it provides compensation that is appropriate....

    I am uncertain that this idea of grabbing the land and then allowing a company to basically make the profits from these displaced inviduals land is a healthy step in the right direction. True, modern roads are paved by private contractors in most cases (that I am aware of), but they do not own the land, nor can private enterprise restrict access to the lands grabbed by the government for the public's use (AKAIK - please correct me if you know of any examples otherwise). I am not certain if the land for toll roads has been grabbed the same way as this suggests. And that 50 year contract is way over the top! About 45 years over the top.

    If the company really wants to make this happen and they are wanting to do this with private enterprise, then the company needs to be the one that convinces the landowners to move or give up land (by providing truthfuly appropriate compensation) and the company should not turn to the state for anything but zoning approval (or other required approvals to build and maintain this system.) It could be a great thing to have a large transport system like this, but... One must always be careful of what doors one opens for potential abuse, as they are very hard to close.

    In all fairness, if this proceeds, then the people whose land is being grabbed definately deserve a stake in the company that is to derive the profits from the current landowners' land. In truth, this probably ought not happen the way it is being thought up in the first place.

    InnerWeb

  • Texas Arithmetic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:24AM (#11217381) Homepage
    cost:
    $175 billion over 50 years

    "could" return:
    $130 billion over 50 years (plus the nebulous "could generate new business")

    So obviously this is a good thing.
  • by aking137 (266199) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:34AM (#11217690)
    I'll no doubt get modded down to a (-1, Flamebait) for daring to suggest that the future may not be as rosy as we all wish, but have the relevant people taken peak oil [peakoil.net] into consideration when making such plans? It just seems a little ill thought out to be building new roads on such a scale if they aren't going to be of much use in another 15-20 years time.

    See 1 [oilcrash.com] 2 [runningonempty.org] 3 [oildepletion.org] 4 [hubbertpeak.com] 5 [odac-info.org] or just Google for peak oil [google.com].
  • by winwar (114053) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:29AM (#11217852)
    You know, I think there is an easier and cheaper way to get rid of animals than making them run a quarter mile freeway gauntlet....

    If you don't like them, just shoot them :)

    Then again, maybe my "Flattened Fauna" book would come in handy....
  • Trains (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wonkavader (605434) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @09:56AM (#11218610)
    I can see the NAFTA trade angle. But a highway isn't the solution, not without a lot of cost on individual self-propelled transport containers (ie. TRUCKS) . The solution is clearly rail. Intermodal transportation (http://www.robl.w1.com/Transport/intermod.htm [w1.com]) is vastly cheaper than the archaic system these guys are suggesting. Containers come on trucks, then go on via train. When they get near an urban center for delivery, they get put on a truck body.

    Much less labor, much less fuel consumption. Much less cost for individual carrier equipment. (Can someone else comment on the cost of rail vs. highway maintenance?)

    If this is a way to make NAFTA better for everyone, they need to scrap the highway (or at least scale it back to very little) and run rails. If it's a way to generate tariffs on transport, well, rails do that, too.

    But they wouldn't need 175 billion dollars for it. If they want to spend that kind of money, they should think about running rail lines through Texas (using some of the rails already there), building over and underpasses for existing rails in and around cities all over the country, running lines around cities to avoid marshalling yards (with their speed restrictions) and building efficient Intermodal systems in smaller towns (there are already such systems in the big ones).

    But that would just mean investing in a rail company instead of press-releasing and creating a whole new way of thinking about roads, etc.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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