For those of you just joining us now, welcome; always there’ll be room for you here at The Placemaking Institute!
Here’s a quick recap from our previous multi-modal convocation: TTI’s very own analyses[i] of their statistical universe directly contradicts those conclusions being made by Pro-Road/Anti-Transit Choice lobbyists like Wendell Cox and his ilk, who draw most if not all of their ammunition from TTI as the foundation for their arguments. This tactic is what’s called employing a logical fallacy and, according to Aristotle, it has no place whatsoever in any serious debate. We also heard from Adam Smith, who warned us to listen to such folks with great precaution for their “interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”
Okay, okay okay, and now admission time. For let it be noted right here that, yes, this Most Senior Fellow has indeed been wrong before.[ii]
Over the years, however, he has learned some things, in this regard particularly from Shakespeare, who identified certitude as the ultimate disease of old decrepit kings,[iii] and especially from John Maynard Keynes, who always used to say that “As the facts change, I change my mind.” So for argument’s sake let’s say that both his and TTI’s analysis of the facts of the matter is wrong and Cox is right; we as a society should perpetuate our auto-centricity by concentrating solely upon constructing more and more roadways, each larger than the last, sprawling us farther from urban cores.
Our further examination of the facts reveals that The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (CAMPO) Mobility 2030 Plan calls for expansion of several critical roadways at a cost of more than $2.5 billion while TxDOT forecasts that it has only 30% of the funds needed to make the improvements required to meet future travel demand. And, according to a recent Texas Public Policy Foundation report on transportation in Central Texas (and something that we here at The Placemaking Institute are pretty certain can most likely be said about any metropolitan area throughout this fair country of ours):
- Over the 1982-1997 period, roadway capacity has not kept up with population growth. While population was rising 106 percent, lane miles of roadway increased by only 66 percent
- Over the next 25 years, highway traffic demand is projected by CAMPO to more than double in the Austin area
Furthermore, according to Take on Traffic (an Austin Chamber of Commerce entity):
- Right now, there are about 4 cars for every 5 people in Central Texas. In five years, there will be at least another 130,000 cars on the road
- There are more than $4.5 billion in road and transit projects waiting to happen in Central Texas for lack of resources
- The gap between what Central Texas has to spend and the minimum cost of the new highways and transit systems it needs is nearly $2.7 billion
- Many of the roads we drive on every day are between 40 and 70 years old. That’s why more than 40% of TxDOT’s budget (twice what the agency receives in state gas tax revenue) goes to maintenance. And much of the money that goes to “building” roads actually goes to rebuilding existing roads and bridges
- To build out a comprehensive transportation system that actually reduces traffic congestion in Central Texas by 2030, we need to find at least $12.7 billion in funding beyond what we have right now. That’s about $635 million a year for the next 20 years[iv]
- To Take On Traffic with fuel taxes alone would require raising (it) to between $1.20 and $1.77 a gallon[v] — on top of the price of gas itself, which is likely to go up
- (To take on traffic by sales tax alone) means adding between $3.50 and $5.62 to every $100 spent[vi]
- (To take on traffic by property taxes alone) means adding between $1260 and $2000 a year to the current tax bill for a $200,000 home[vii]
“Wowie Zowie!”[viii] Are you kidding?! Now that is a tremendous amount of cash-flow cheese! Is Cox actually expecting each of us individuals to be footing the bill for roadway subsidization? If indeed so, doesn’t that make him a big ol’ hypocrite[viv]and roadway construction nothing but an unsustainable false economy?
In other words, the facts regarding concentrating our societal energies solely upon building roadways to alleviate congestion have only been made even bleaker. Thus this Most Senior Fellow’s mind has not changed. And you can be sure he will persist in puncturing such outmoded transit prevarications as those being perpetuated by Anti-Choice lobbyists.[x]
[i] “If a region’s vehicle-miles of travel were to increase by five percent per year, roadway lane-miles would need to increase by five percent each year to maintain the initial congestion level; it would be almost impossible to attempt to maintain a constant congestion level with road construction only” (refer to “Commonsense? Re-fenestrated (I)” for more examples).
[ii] (Once, a very long story from a very long time ago and so, please, don’t ask.)
[iii] Please, if you’d be most kind, allow this paraphrase to suffice.
[viii] Frank Zappa would’ve exclaimed.
[viv] (for your reading enjoyment please note our comment entitled “Treve de betises!”)
[x] (Keynes wonders: “When his mind changes, does this man change the facts?” Replies Andrew Bard Schmookler: “One cannot say it is safe to relinquish the position of unquestioned supremacy, if one is compelled by an unrelenting narcissistic need to be Number One.”)