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#1 2014-05-19 12:54:50

From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,162

Enviro groups oppose converting Mopac into "I-35 West"

A coalition of enviro groups has a full-page ad in the Chronicle this week opposing turning Mopac into "I-35 West", though the ad is extremely vague about how that would happen.  Also, 99% of the ad is trying to appeal to readers' assumed concerns about traffic jams on Mopac, not enviro issues like building in the Barton Springs recharge zone, which is a little fishy because these enviro groups can't be really concerned about Mopac commuters' commute times.  It reminds me of how industry groups defeated GMO labeling referendums by running ads claiming that the price of food would go up if GMO had to be labeled -- as though manufacturers and Monsanto spent tons of their own money on ads because they were really concerned about consumers having to spend slightly more at the grocery store (even if that were true).

Put another way, the enviro groups have an agenda (protect the environment), and I *agree* with that agenda, but when they try to *hide* or disguise their agenda then it just seems sleazy.

The group's website,, explains the issue better, by showing I-35 connected to Mopac by the proposed extension of SH 45, though again the front page is mostly an appeal to those who don't want to see their commute times increase.

Here's the Austin Chronicle article on the subject.


#2 2014-05-22 08:57:54

Registered: 2014-05-22
Posts: 82

Re: Enviro groups oppose converting Mopac into "I-35 West"

Finally I have something to contribute.  I'm a lifelong South Austin resident I think it's worth noting these plans were set in motion in 1985 (revised in 1994 and again in 2000).  Before that Mopac was planned to start at 360 in the south and stop at 183 in the north and I doubt there is a valid argument for putting up barriers at those intersections to "save the original Mopac for locals".  I think people sometime forget that infrastructure is very expensive and takes a long time to implement (planning sine 1985) so we as a society should always strive to get the most use out if it as possible. 

The best way to have fought this particular part of Mopac and 45 would have been to have started in the 1980s and 1990s (which environmental groups did, hence the revised 1994 plan) and offer up alternative plans to guide growth (which environmental groups failed to effectively do as they only cut roads from the plan, hence we fell back on the 1985 plan).

1985 Plan
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Lots of great historical road information (including some cool photos of old Austin) can be found here: … shtml#1985

Now to bring this back to cycling, the lesson here is large scale road infrastructure planning is on the decades time scale and if alternate users (ie - not cars) want their use taken into account then input needs to be given during those critical planning phases.  The good news is this is happening now as CAMPO's 2040 mobility plan considers cycling as valid transportation options that need infrastructure (I'm certain the original 1985 plan did not even mention cyclists).



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