TXDOT threw this out as an option primarily because they didn't think it had enough capacity to handle the projected volumes of traffic. The problem is that they used outdated information to make their case. TXDOT indicated that the current traffic volumes on Transmountain today is 17,000 cars per day. TXDOT estimated that in 2015 when the project is completed the car volume would increase to 40,000, a 57% increase in traffic volumes. TXDOT estimates that in 2035 the car trips per day would increase to 71,000. Problem is that the latest and greatest numbers show that only 18,000 cars will make this trip in 2020 and only 31,000 in 2035. Using the new numbers, the most recently adopted numbers, a boulevard holds up very well.
A boulevard also handles many of the safety concerns by eliminating the transition at high speeds from two lanes to one lane. Since it features local road alongside it, it resolves the issue of property owners building driveways directly onto the main lanes. In addition, pedestrians and bicyclists would feel safer and be safer walking or pedaling next to slow traffic on local roads rather than on fast traffic moving on frontage roads. When is the last time you thought to yourself that you would like to take a walk on frontage roads next to I10?
So the boulevard is a choice. Not TXDOT's choice, but a choice for resolving our mobility and safety issues in that area. What is your choice?
Another choice offered up by a group of determined El Pasoans is to let them have their freeway but to minimize the environmental impact by not building the last overpass closest to the mountain and to preserve the 900 acres of Public Service Board land that straddles that section of Transmountain. Their goal is to keep Transmountain scenic in the areas that the public has control over. That land is owned by the City of El Paso and there is nothing inevitable about it having to be developed. The public, you and I, can make a choice not to develop that section because it is more valuable to us as open space than it is as freeway development. If that last overpass closest to the State Park is built, it will set in place the line of development for all of the land north of it to the State line. Not building that overpass will create a pattern where most of the develop occurs closer to I-10.
So demand a choice. El Paso deserves real choices. Here's how:
- Attend the TXDOT Public Hearing on Thursday, March 22.
- If you can't make it, write them by April 1 to let them know what you want. I have a form letter with the different options that I would be happy to email you. Email me if you want it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do we want TXDOT to build our City? Or are we going to do the hard work of building our city, guided by our own values and priorities? It is our choice.