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United States News

The Super Superhighway 1005

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 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:43AM (#11216079) Homepage
    What's wrong with Interstates?
  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grey Ninja ( 739021 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:48AM (#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.
  • Scenic Texas (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thedogcow ( 694111 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:50AM (#11216134)
    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".
  • Neato! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BrainDebugged ( 835729 ) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:50AM (#11216142)
    -- corridors up to a quarter-mile across, consisting of as many as six lanes for cars and four for trucks, plus railroad tracks, oil and gas pipelines, water and other utility lines, even broadband transmission cables.
    Awesome, but will Linux run on it too?

    Seriously though, this seems like it would be a nightmare to drive on. Having to cross a dozen lanes just to get off would be nerve racking, especially during rush hour. Also is it such a good idea to have oil and gas pipelines on this "SuperHighway" too? What if a a fully loaded 18-Wheeler crashes into them? Or, will these pipelines be below ground? I would hope so.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:52AM (#11216161)

    I mean really, don't illegals have an easy enough time getting into the US? This is the blue collar equivalent of stringing a backbone cable to India.

  • Ah the Speed Limit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ravenspear ( 756059 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:52AM (#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 lpangelrob2 ( 721920 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:58AM (#11216201) Journal
    Umm... we want to create 4,000 miles of terrorist in Texas target for... what reason, exactly?

    I'm sort of a road geek, so I'll narrate a bit. I don't think there's anything wrong with the way Interstates run now, except maybe that trucks and cars use the same lanes of traffic. Fixing that would be a $125 billion project in itself. As for infrastructure... well, here's how things look right now...

    There's a good chunk of fiber running along U.S. 24 (a highway) in Illinois... not an Interstate. There are seven major transmission lines... only one runs along an Interstate for a long while, and that's because it used to be U.S. 51, not I-39. There are at least four major oil lines in the state. They're clearly marked, but I couldn't tell you were they were, except for maybe "Joliet and Chicago". This is because one runs along state highway 83, and another cuts through and under backyards in the western 'burbs. And I see a bunch of refineries right next to I-55. So these two sightings are possibly the same pipe. :-) Railroad follow U.S. routes pretty strictly... except for a few that follow state routes. Oh, and most of the state drags its water out of wells, or the Illinois River / Lake Michigan. That pipe is very much unmarked.

    Besides the fact that I like the idea that at most two of those infrastructures can be taken out at once, I also like that I don't know where everything goes. I can tell you that they go across farms, which doesn't help you at all. Security through obscurity? Sure. But it's pretty effective when the infrastructure is tens / hundreds of miles apart.

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by weorthe ( 666189 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:58AM (#11216206)
    The road sounds like it's intended to be the Mississippi River or Transcontinental Railroad of the future. Texas wants to be the nations land port. But with more and more trade coming from China instead of Mexico maybe they should build it east-west instead.

    Sort of just kidding.
  • Re:Speedy Limit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by damiangerous ( 218679 ) <1ndt7174ekq80001@sneakemail.com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:59AM (#11216212)
    Montana, late 90's. It was the safest period ever [motorists.com] on the roads there.
  • by JudgeFurious ( 455868 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:01AM (#11216234)
    Trust me on this one Andy, the feeling is mutual.
  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:05AM (#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:Fine and Dandy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SpacePunk ( 17960 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:16AM (#11216333) Homepage
    "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.

  • Re:Strange Reaction (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BrainDebugged ( 835729 ) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:16AM (#11216335)
    I don't think that being as mobile as we are now is become a bad thing. We now have the opportunity to travel to the otherside of the planet in just a few hours for a fairly good price, something not so easy decades ago. People have more options available to them. We aren't necessarily bound to pick a job or a school that's within 100 miles from where we grew up as children. If someone feels they would have better opportunities someplace else they can easily go their and try to live up to their full potential (barring any obligations either physically or to your family).
    How many college students move back to the small town because its "home"?
    I'm from a small town. There aren't many opportunities for me there as a software engineer or really anything past factory worker, salesman, McDonald's chef. So why would I want to go back there when I know I would be happy doing something I love even if it isn't "home"? I'm not trying to attack you, merely saying that I, personally, would not want to find myself trapped in a small town like I've seen so many others. I don't want my abilities to be limited by my location.

    And as far as considering my small town as "home", I don't really. I recognize that it's where I grew up but I don't feel obliged to go back. I consider "home" to be wherever my family may reside. It's not such a bad thing for someone (college student) to want to get away and find their own identity, their own niche in society is it?
  • A wild Berlin Wall (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TimmyDee ( 713324 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:20AM (#11216372) Homepage Journal
    Huge is almost an understatement. Current freeways are nearly insurmountable barriers to wildlife movement. This would be a complete atrocity.

    If anyone is looking for a somewhat similar study done on man-made barriers, take a look into wildlife studies done in Australia on the dingo-proof fence. Kangaroo densities on the dingo-proofed side are staggeringly high while very normal on the dingo-populated side. This may seem well and good, but such an imbalance will inevitably lead to a population overshoot that will bring kangaroos deeper into urban areas and be a breeding ground for a host of diseases (think chronic wasting disease in deer in the Midwest).

    The Trans Texas highway is sure to have an equally large impact, if not larger. It'll be like the Berlin wall for wildlife.
  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:22AM (#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.

  • Re:Soooo... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mingrassia ( 49175 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:31AM (#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.
  • Re:Speedy Limit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doppler00 ( 534739 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:37AM (#11216473) Homepage Journal
    Ah I remember those reasonable and prudent signs in Montana. They still had regular speed limit signs in cities, it's just the highways had signs that said "Reasonable and Prudent" and then below that "Trucks: 55" or something like that.

    I wonder if that's because people didn't need to bother looking at their spedometer every few seconds to make sure they were not breaking the law. I would certainly be able to concentrate better driving if I didn't have to glance at my gauges all the time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:48AM (#11216533)
    And that is one way for a passenger car.

    18-wheelers will pay mega$$$.

    Speed Limit 85-mph.

    Got this info from the D-FW area newspapers.
  • True... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by abb3w ( 696381 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:48AM (#11216534) Journal

    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. =)

  • Re:Speedy Limit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Atrax ( 249401 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:54AM (#11216559) Homepage Journal
    Having driven on the German Autobahn in a somewhat underpowered Volkswagen, I'm more inclined to believe the safer record of Autobahns is because a significant portion of the driving population is just scared crapless to go on them(!)

    I found being passed by BMW M3s at nearly twice my speed was a little unnerving, and I'm a confident driver.
  • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:58AM (#11216580) Journal
    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 upsidedown_duck ( 788782 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @02:01AM (#11216605)
    How does this contradict conservative principles?

    It requires government intervention for eminent domain. People will lose their homes over this. Has it been clearly demonstrated that this highway is for the greater good or is it just for greater profit? I'd be fucking pissed off if someone threw me out of my home for $0.50 on the dollar for a highway no one wanted.

  • by smithmc ( 451373 ) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @02:25AM (#11216707) Journal

    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.

  • Re:Soooo... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @02:29AM (#11216724) Homepage
    I've been plenty of other places, and Texas is big. It's bigger than any European country. I used to live in Austin, and it's an 8-hour drive to the nearest state line. From where I live in China, you can get to almost everywhere worth going in a 12-hour drive. The state's highways are excellent and free, and an immediate drop in quality is always experienced when leaving Texas. Can't speak for the German highways, though.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 30, 2004 @02:43AM (#11216793)
    No, businesses won't pay $175 billion.

    The taxpaying middle-class will pay the bulk of it.

    Why on Earth do you think we have something called campaign contributions in which so many businesses participate? It is precisely so they don't have to foot the bill for these things.

    Welfare and tax loopholes for the ultra wealthy is out of hand. They need to start pulling their weight and stop expecting free handouts from us workin class folks who make less than half million dollars per year.

  • Re:Soooo... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deimtee ( 762122 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @02:53AM (#11216852) Journal
    There used to be a station (that's a ranch to you yanks) in West Australia that actually was bigger than Texas. Pity it got broken up a few years ago as it was fun pointing it out to texans.
  • corrupt :Rick Perry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dj_virto ( 625292 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:16AM (#11216950)
    This is the same Rick Perry that was elected as an 'aw shucks' farmer to be agriculture commissioner then turned around and gave Archer Daniel Midland the right to grade all Texas peanuts, including their own, pissing off the otherwise republicna voting farmers aware enough to notice. Of course guess who effectively paid for his campaign? Corruption goes beyond ideology. It's pretty much always bad. The republican base seems to be mainly people like these farmers and ranchers, who are vulnerable to a flag draped propoganda machine such as the republicans have skillfully builr. They're vulnerable because they're uninformed, and it works out beautifully, because they don't even notice most of the time when their beloved 'conservatives' turn around and suck their lifeblood. I often think it is a lucky holdover from a more sensible era that we haven't privatized the roads. Then stuff like this comes along, and I start to get really scared for the future. If the Rick Perrys of the world really get what they want, and pull off the propaganda to support it too.. we're really f*cked for sure.
  • Re:Speedy Limit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by smacktits ( 737334 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:45AM (#11217262)
    I too have driven on the Autobahns, but it was in my old car, a 1976 Jensen Interceptor FF, which was certainly not underpowered. If anything, I found that people in slower underpowered cars caused more danger than those of us belting along at 120+mph.
  • by j_w_d ( 114171 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:00AM (#11217307)
    I have read comparisons, years ago now, between Heinlein's rolling roads idea and the big interstates. It isn't that unreasonable when you consider the "road cities" and the larger linear belts of development that appear along major freeways. The freeway conception is more efficient than the rolling roads could possibly be. However, the role of futureist and forecasting doesn't necessarily demand technological accuracy.

    The peculiar society that develops along interstate corridors is complex and a distinct subset of our society at large. Enough so that epidemiological studies are beginning to be concerned about the poor understanding we have of that subsector and its roles in the spread of infectious and sexually transmitted diseases to name just two points.

    If you have ever stepped in to a Flying J or similar establishment, there are number of distinct and interesting aspects about the stores, the conversations, and even the technology available. Conversations reveal interesting relationships that are maintained through truck-stop contacts. You hear things like, "Hey, So-and-so! Say, when was the last we ran into each other? Wasn't it outside Portland? ... Oh yeah, Seattle, that's ... No, no, it was Victoria in B.C. I saw the ...es in Portland. They were heading this way. Have you seen them?" These may take place between long-distance truck drivers and truck driving couples, couples living in motor homes, and other denizens of the stops such as itenerant prostitutes.

    While Heinlein blew the technology, he recognized the economic necessity and social consequences of the giant interstates. Which, really, is more than you can say for the characters who hand out the Golden Fleece awards and similar trendily uninformed criticisms that may or may not pick out the sillyness in research and more often than not demonstrate the judge's remarkable lack of imagination.

  • by mandalayx ( 674042 ) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:36AM (#11217422) Journal
    Well public real estate will be used for private purposes. through eminent domain.

    also costs of building supporting infrastructure around the road will be substantial.

    opportunity cost of 1/4 wide swath of land will be high, esp if it goes through large cities and uses prime real estate.

    overall driving may go up as more drivers use roads, then use public roads to get to final destination. more demand for public roads. those costs go up. less demand for (potentially) more efficient public transport systems.

    more and more indirect costs..
  • Re:Speedy Limit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:44AM (#11217448)
    You could be more on the money than you realize. The article linked by the previous poster indicated that lane etiquette was far more prevalent when there was no posted speed limit, even though the *average* speed driven didn't increase by that much. This is similar to the behavior on the Autobahn, where the most important law is "slower traffic to the right". When people actually *obey* that law, the risk of traffic accidents is far lower, and the thought of an M3 coming up behind you at 110 mph is enough to make a lot of us keep right ;)

  • by Presidential ( 805793 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @08:27AM (#11217847)
    Sadly, you got points for being Funny when in fact that was incredibly Insightful.

    I work in a tech industry where oh-so-many of my phone calls terminate in India. There, "Jeff" or "George" tries his damndest to communicate with me over language and culture barriers. He's also got to contend with my hearing loss, which makes it doubly difficult for me to understand English if it has a substantial Indian accent.

    Now lets take the work crews here in Texas. Look real closely at new home constructions. Show me the blue collared fellow who ISN'T Mexican.

    Globalization will occur regardless of any efforts to deflect or delay it. I believe it is inevitable with so many factors weighing in: populations grow more dense, cultures begin to meld together, borders become less relevant, etc. However, in the here-and-now, we find lots of legitimate citizens, who would pay taxes if they could, out of work due to cheaper available labor from India (in the example of telephone centers) and Mexico.

    The argument against that point is that these unemployed Americans can always improve their lot in life with education. Righto. I'll just wheel up to the local university and take out a couple student loans to pay for this improvement. What? I don't qualify? Too much outstanding debt already? I'm only 33!

    Okay, build the damn road already. If nothing else, it will greatly reduce traffic on 35.
  • Eminent Domain (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Theseus192 ( 787156 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @10:20AM (#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:Speedy Limit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JimBobJoe ( 2758 ) <swiftheart@@@gmail...com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @11:04AM (#11218674)
    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.
  • Re:Soooo... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FLEB ( 312391 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @11:22AM (#11218834) Homepage Journal
    Of course, helped along by eminent domain.
  • by cblguy ( 697834 ) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:41PM (#11219569)
    Anyone remember the TxSSC that they were going to build in Waxahachie back in the early '90s? That was a huge undertaking that fell through pretty quickly as a pork barrel project. Big plans, big dreams, lots of smoke and mirrors, and poof... nothing happens.

    I live along the I35 corridor, about a mile and a half from I35, actually, in Waco. Traffic is OK on most days. But Friday evening, and holidays, it's gridlock. I hate it on Fridays & holidays.

    This sounds like just another dream project. I don't think they'll really do anything. I'd bet they'll just keep trying to widen I35. After all, the orange barrel is the state bird of Texas, and they seem to flock all over I35.

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

    by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @12:46PM (#11219611)
    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 the traffic would cause air polution that would make their neighborhood unliveable. The land and completed road sat growing weeds until a few years ago when they converted a section of it into the state Rte. 9 extension. In that case they used eminent doman to take land from hundreds of people for pretty much no good reason at all. In many cases this was in the form of just taking people's back yards and leaving them with a house on almost no land that faced an abandoned roadway. Nice, huh?
  • by LaCosaNostradamus ( 630659 ) <LaCosaNostradamu ... m ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @01:31PM (#11220048) Journal
    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 way, did we mention cars? Everybody will drive cars, anywhere they go ... FOREVER.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson