MPO & Larson hear from us on signal timing on 281

Melody Sosa had this to say at the MPO Transportation Policy Board yesterday…

I am from Houston and have experienced living near a toll road. I asked them if they have done an economic impact study to see what the effect of a toll road will be on the businesses and property values of this area. When I lived near the toll road I noticed traveling on it that there were no flourishing businesses and that property values decreased because people don’t want to live or work near a toll road. I said that I noticed that there are alot of new houses being built in this area and that I know that they are planning for alot of growth in the years ahead, but have they considered that a toll road will stifle that growth and so we will be stuck with a huge 16 lane road which will be unnecessary. A catch 22. I said that the traffic there isn’t bad enough to warrant such a huge road and that a few minor fixes are more appropriate, especially considering that it is over the aquifer.

I cannot even use certain fertilizers because of my home being over the aquifer and I can’t imagine what a giant road will do to our water, but it can’t be good. I also let them know that the toll road in Houston didn’t help congestion, My husband had to travel on it for 2 years to work and it still took him an hour each way and cost us 40 dollars a month. I closed by asking them what they planned to do with the increased traffic on the arterial roads near the toll road. I used to avoid the toll road in Houston and I’m sure people here will do the same, which will cause traffic problems. I asked them specifically if they planned to expand Bulverde, which already has alot of traffic, which will increase with a tolled 281. They are only going to be causing more traffic problems.

Supporter David R. McLaughlin sent this to the Express-News and to Commissioner Lyle Larson…

Dear Editor,

Outrageous is the mildest expletive I can use for the conduct and propaganda of TxDot, City and County Officials. The propaganda statements by Joe Krier and Bill Thornton are filled with the stuff that Joe Krier claims is coming from the Texas Toll Party. The San Antonio City employees in collusion with TxDot have purposely “tweaked” the stop lights on 281 to ensure that traffic backsup during the rush hour. It is a relatively simple speed, distance, time equation to set the lights so that cars will flow through them in an orderly fashion. It is obvious that when the next light turns red as the traffic from the last one is just arriving that timing has been set to the worst possible mix. If the City traffic department can’t figure it out then they should be fired or the Texas school system has really suffered erosion in education more than we thought.

Joe Krier and Bill Thornton do not drive that stretch of 281 to work everyday. Commissioner Lyle Larson does and knows what he is talking about. My wife and I drive it every morning also. My wife drives 40 miles round trip to UTSA everyday to work as a nurse, 95% on 281 and 1604. According to the numbers provided by TxDot (.29 cents/ mile), which would mean an additional $58.00/week just to go to work. Her car gets 30 mpg. If you raised the gas tax $1.00 (TxDot’s est. with no basis provided) or just $0.50, (Senator Wentworth’s est. also with no basis provided) the additional cost to her would only be $6.67 or $3.33 respectively additional cost. At the toll road cost it is not worth the cost. Can San Antonio really afford to lose experienced registered nurses so that private companies can enjoy high profits at the expense of the tax payers?

TxDot has lost all credibility with the residents along the 281 corridor. For years now they have held public hearings on the road and presented detailed plans showing exactly how the road would look to include three main lanes a side and two lane feeder roads with overpasses where the 5 stop lights are presently. This is not a new idea from Commissioner Larson. It was briefed to the public numerous times by TxDot. TxDot engineers, Julie Brown and Clay Smith among others, from the TxDot planning division attended these meetings and help explain the project. There was no mention of a toll road. The monies were supposedly already available.

While we are at it, what happened to “Impact Fees”? Why aren’t the developers who are throwing all of this traffic onto this highway being made to help pay the costs of the roadway? I understand that even TxDot’s own studies show that they will be in violation of Federal law with respect to noise impact on the surrounding communities but that they do not intend to build sound barriers, such as you find all around Washington D.C., or even on I 10 near the I-12 fork in Baton Rouge. If a private company is going to build and pay for the toll road why not include the sound barriers?

I understand that no one is allowed to know the exact figures discussed with the private companies who are to enjoy this windfall profit. I guess that certain individuals just do not want the public to “follow the money”.

David R. McLaughlin