Last Updated ( Sunday, 25 December 2011 15:12 )
SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION FOR CENTRAL TEXAS
The population of Central Texas is projected to double over the next twenty-five years and the local transportation planning agency – CAMPO – predicts that will translate into a tripling in traffic congestion, even if $10 billion is spent expanding and extending highways. In fact, the vast majority of all public tax dollars spent in Central Texas on transportation already goes to expanding and extending suburban highways and (now) toll roads.
Nothing determines the way our region grows as much as where roads are expanded and built. The roadbuilding plan endorsed by CAMPO, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is fundamentally unsustainable: twenty five years from now, people will drive further on average to get to work than they do today.. This plan is based on historic trends of ever greater sprawl and ever increasing per capita daily vehicle miles traveled. The increased driving assumed by this plan translates into more air and water pollution, more vehicle-generated greenhouse gases, more local dependence on foreign oil, more destruction and fragmentation of vulnerable wildlife habitats, and more social isolation.
The CAMPO/TxDOT plan calls for at least $1.25 billion in new and expanded highways and toll roads to be located within the fragile Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer watershed. This road building would cost more than double the amount needed to buy sensitive watershed lands now targeted for development – the same projected development that is being used to justify the proposed highways and toll roads. By protecting thousands of acres as parks, preserves, and conservation ranches, we can erase the projected traffic and eliminate the need for the proposed road extensions and expansions. Thus it is cheaper to save our vulnerable Hill Country watersheds than to pave them.