Monday, May 4, 2015

15 Highway Projects North Texas Needs

Not really. More like 15 highway projects the highway industry and their lobbyists want. The list is offered unquestioningly by Dallas Business Journal's Nicholas Sakelaris.

There are two numbers buried in this story that suggest to me that maybe we ought to be rethinking our dependence on highways to, as Sakelaris puts it, "keep the economy rolling."

Sakelaris doesn't supply the first number. It needs to be calculated from the numbers that Sakelaris does supply: the amount of money needed for each individual project. Add up all fifteen projects and the sum total of money needed is $23 billion.

Where is the money going to come from? Sakelaris offers this: "Voters did approve Proposition 1, which allocates more than $1 billion a year for highway projects." That's for all of Texas, mind you. North Texas will get only a fraction of that $1 billion/year. At that rate, it could take a century to pay for those fifteen projects that Sakelaris says North Texas needs now. And if North Texas continues to grow by sprawl like it has in the past, how many more highway projects will be needed before then? Needless to say, that $1 billion/year is nowhere near enough to close the funding gap.

Like I said, maybe we ought to be rethinking our dependence on highways. Maybe we ought to be developing a new urbanism that emphasizes more compact, mixed-use communities that reduce demand on the automobile to get to work places, shops and recreation; one with communities with increased density and an interconnected street grid that accommodates smarter transportation choices; one where we maintain existing streets, not just build new ones. Perhaps we could lead the way to a new age, an age of rebirth, a renaissance, ... Naaaaaahhh!

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