Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Sound of Freedom

The Katy Freeway is complete. This Houston mega freeway is hopefully the last of its kind in the United States. Stretching from Katy to Houston, this 18 lane monstrosity is now officially double the initial project cost stated at $1 to $1.2 Billion dollars. The final cost? $2.8 Billion. Presumably some of that will be made back with tolls on the center Hot Lane. But as Culbertson says, it didn't use a single earmark yet he was key to getting the money. How does that work? Too bad it used billions of dollars of taxpayer money that could have been spent more wisely. But it's the sound of freedom!

Perry noted the roar of traffic below, above and around the crowd, which was gathered on a frontage road overpass. "This is the sound of freedom we hear," he said. "These people need roads to get to work, to church and to school."

If that is the sound of freedom, I have a war in Iraq for you Governor. Sure people need roads, but do they really need the particulate matter and increased sprawl this will cause? This is all the pet project of Rep. John Culbertson, who loves him some roads. He promised that the next mega project would be US 290 but hopefully he doesn't get his way. With the Katy Freeway, Culbertson basically had the railroad right of way that paralleled the road paved over. There is a similar situation on 290 that shouldn't happen again.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which already plans light rail on Westpark, paid to have Katy Freeway overpasses beefed up to carry its trains if space there ever is available for them. But Culberson, whose ability to get federal dollars was crucial to the widening project, pledged not to give up a single freeway lane for Metro rail. Brandt Mannchen, the Sierra Club regional air quality chairman, expressed regret at what he termed a missed opportunity to have rail on the Katy.

The Culbertson who wanted to kill light rail all together and was a major reason for me starting this blog. Now I'm not a huge fan of rail in the freeway, especially an 18 lane freeway. But getting rid of that right of way was a mistake. And I wouldn't doubt if it were on purpose. Showing this guy the door would be a huge win for livable communities in Houston. Unfortunately at this juncture, the race isn't that close but it's tightening. We'll be watching this one on election night with the ballot measures. Mostly because this guy is a danger to himself and transit in general.


Anonymous said...

This says a lot.

Unknown said...

The really sad thing about this is that these people are sowing the seeds of a lot of hurt in Texas once gasoline prices resume their stratospheric climb. There was a story in the Financial Times yesterday about how global oil production has dropped by 9% this past calendar year. That's enough to make even the most hardened highway lovers wince.

Anonymous said...

To me there isn't really qa problem having track along the freeway.