Eastern alignment for TX-130 accepted
By Peter Samuel
The Texas Turnpike Authority (TTA) has accepted an eastern or outer alignment for the big north-south toll road through the Austin TX area, eventually extending to near San Antonio. The eastern alignment somewhat east and north of the city reduces contention over the road connected to its impacts on parks and historic sites. Previously there had been a conflict between enviro/NIMBY considerations and prospective toll revenues. TTA favored the closer-in western alignment because on its early traffic and revenue projections the eastern alignment was much less financable.
(Its an old dilemma. You want your road to be near the people because thats where the traffic is. But the few people most directly impacted make more fuss against the project than the many who will benefit make in favor of it. So the alignment gets forced outward, where the fuss is less but so is the traffic.)
But TTA says after reworking its traffic model with more current data, the eastern alignment looks about as good traffic and revenue-wise as the closer-in alignment. So it has switched horses. The new outer alignment will be incorporated in the final enviro impact statement (FEIS). The draft EIS had incorporated the western alignment.
TX-130 will parallel I-35 about 15km to 20km (10mi) to the east and provide it with relief as well as providing better general north-south connectivity in the flat new commercial areas on the eastern fringes of the city. The first sections to be built in some kind of private-public venture are in the Austin metro area and will improve connections to the Austin-Bergstrom airport. Eventually the toll road could be 145km (90mi) in length extending from Georgetown north of Austin to Seguin on I-10 on the eastern outskirts of San Antonio. (David Kopp TX-130 office, Randall Dillard 512 463 8613)