Friday, June 1, 2007
TxDot and the Mopac1 planning team met with over 200 citizens Tues 6/29/07 to discuss Mopac managed lane proposals. John Kelly, the MoPac1 project manager, published this memo outlining the proposal.
On page 2 of his memo, he addresses safety concerns regarding reducing lane width to 11 feet:
"What some folks might not realize is that several sections of Loop 1 and other highways in cities across Texas have 11-foot wide lanes that safely carry traffic today. Even so, the recommended design for Loop 1 includes a number of elements to enhance the safety of the traveling public, including improved traffic control devices (What?), limited access points and extra-wide shoulders (where possible)."
Here Mr. Kelly defends the charge that Managed Lanes are Tolls on roads we've already paid for:
"Some people have expressed concern that charging a fee to use a managed lane on MoPac is akin to charging a toll to use an existing public highway. There is an important distinction here: tolls are charged to all users of a road as a direct method of funding the road and the tolls remain the same regardless of the time of day. For the Loop 1 project, fees would be used as a tool to keep the managed lanes free of congestion and functioning at optimum capacity."
Sorry, it's still a fee, toll, double-tax or whatever you want to call it on existing public right of way. Also, I understand the concept of using the fees to keep congestion down, but where exactly will the money go? He already says that tolls are charged to fund roads and he uses this as a distinction from managed lane fees. So, where exactly will the money go?
They will lay down more pavement to widen the lanes. But they will stay within "TxDOT's existing right of way".
"Another criticism I’ve heard is that this project simply involves re-striping the existing pavement. This criticism ironically stems from the project team’s successful effort to keep the recommended improvements within TxDOT’s existing right of way, so as not to intrude upon adjacent residents and other landowners. While the right of way width will remain unchanged, the roadway and several bridges will indeed be widened. In fact, the approach we have recommended involves widening the existing roadway and bridges the entire project length, laying down new pavement, making significant drainage system improvements, and adding nearly seven miles of noise barriers."
They have a website where you can see lots of propaganda and drawings of the proposal. Go to Mopac1.org to see what's there. I couldn't find anything about how this thing would be funded or how the income from fees would be handled. Also haven't found anything about HOW MUCH the fees would actually be.