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Dave Dobbs critiques S.H. 130
(see other articles about S.H. 130)


Dave Dobbs

Texas Association for Public Transportation

9702 Swansons Ranch Road

Austin, Texas 78748-1424

(512) 282-1149

Fax (512) 282-5621

ddobbs(at)bga.com

12 June 2000

 

Mr. Dan Reagan
Federal Highway Administration
Federal Building
300 East 8th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
Tel 916-5511
dan.reagan@fhwa.dot.gov
 
Dear Mr. Reagan:
 
During the DEIS commentary period I voiced my organization's opposition to SH 130 to your colleague Brett Jackson in a letter dtd March 20, 2000 which I have attached here for reference. The reservations and concerns outlined in the aforementioned document remain, but in addition and for the record, it should be noted that stated goals of public policy locally and at the federal level are in fact thwarted by proceeding with SH 130.
 
Financial Constraint
 
An MPO‚s regional transportation is supposed to be financially constrained. As reported in the Austin American Statesman, CAMPO‚s proposed plan is already in excess of $360 million short at the local level. SH 130 will open vast new territory for sprawl development requiring ancillary roads, electricity, water, waste water, policing, fire protection, EMS, public transit, etc., at enormous expense not only for the capital and service costs, but for the debt service to bring these amenities on line. Given that local government is legally responsible as a public utility to provide supporting infrastructure, these costs are unavoidable and are one of the key reasons why our regional plan does not meet the test of financial constrain. Any examination of Travis County and City of Austin budgets (and the debt service, therein) over the last 20 years will reveal, "sprawl" does not pay for itself.
 
Reduce Congestion and Promote Mobility
 
Because SH 130 perpetuates the past into the future on the assumption (myth) that today's traffic forecasts should be projected to meet tomorrow's needs, the traveling public will find itself on the road longer for greater periods of time to get less and less places. Additionally, the enormous direct and indirect expenditures engendered by the highway, will promote a land-use pattern contrary to alternatives, increase VMT, and ultimately result in degraded levels of service (E and F) throughout the service area. This is borne out both within the MIS and the DEIS documents already on the public record as well as by TTI data. A 15 year study of TTI's data on 70 cities shows that those cities that spent billions on congestion relief by increasing roadway capacity had as much or more congestion as those cities who did little or nothing. (You can view this document at http://www.transact.org under documents and reports, "An Analyses of the Relationship Between Highway Expansion and Congestion in Metropolitan Areas" as well as an update to that report, the title of which I do not have at the moment). Since mobility is, in fact, the ability to travel to the most places in the least amount of time, SH 130 does not promote mobility or reduce congestion. Should we not be listening here, to TTI, the highway lobby's own "think tank?"
 
Promote Air Quality
 
More vehicle miles traveled (VMT), even in cleaner cars, is contrary to the steps required for reducing air pollution. Tomorrow's city must have a far higher percentage of walking, bicycle, and transit trips and this will not be possible if we build to the past's paradigm. Dirty air is far more expensive that clean air as I hope will be shown in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court hearing brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who seem to think that public health is some unaccountable and irrelevant cost when it comes to business.
 
In closing, it was my understanding that ISTEA and TEA 21 were reforms to federal law designed to put more control in the hands of local officials in the belief that government was of the people, by the people, and for the people, rather than leaving decisions to bureaucracies, such as TxDot, who are beyond the reach of the people or their representatives. Surely the alignment of a transportation facility is a matter of local choice and not one made by a remote and removed process.
 
State Highway 130 is what the great historian, Barbara Tuchman, identified in her book of the same name* as, "The March of Folly;" i.e., the pursuit of public policy contrary to our own self interest when at the time everyone clearly understands that the policy in question is overwhelming a failure for all but a few special interests. Someone has to have the courage to recognize this and say "the buck stops here!"
 
Thank for your consideration in this matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dave Dobbs
Executive Director, TAPT
 
*See Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1984.

(see other articles about S.H. 130)





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