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Old June 22nd, 2009, 06:44 PM   #4381
Danielk2
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Nice picture of I-35 in Laredo, Texas.
[IMG]http://i42.************/29f8i9e.jpg[/IMG]
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That's quite dangerous with an onramp before the offramp. Have you americans heard of this new european thing we call "Safety"?
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 09:04 PM   #4382
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That's quite dangerous with an onramp before the offramp. Have you americans heard of this new european thing we call "Safety"?
Yes we have, unfortunately it costs money, and American governments are notoriously cheap bastards when it comes to spending money on the general welfare. Now when it comes to throwing money into fancy weapons systems and tax cuts, no country is better than the USA!!!!
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 09:08 PM   #4383
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Salt Lake City also has some pretty wide freeways, especially the I-15, which is not weird considering almost all of the Utah population lives along this freeway.
[IMG]http://i43.************/1jnew8.jpg[/IMG]
Salt Lake City had its freeway system improved greatly in the run up to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 09:17 PM   #4384
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Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota released his draft of the six-year federal transportation bill last week. It's pricetag is $450 billion, a 57% increase over the $286.5 billion bill that Bush signed in 2005 and expires later this year.

The Obama administration lopped off its balls and doesn't want the bill to be passed until 2011, because they are too chickenshit to raise the gas tax to help pay for it. The draft of the bill has $337 billion for roads and $99 billion for transit. It would also create a national infrastructure bank to help fund transportation improvements across the country.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 09:20 PM   #4385
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Nice picture indeed. That area is a quite despleasing to the eye though.
Yeah, that's what happens when suburban development hits rural Texas interstates. Never looks very good.

This section of interstate is actually pretty interesting - the flyover in the distance is where State Loop 20 hits I-35. Much of the truck traffic coming from Mexico into the 20 mile trade zone takes this route, since the I-35 route through downtown Laredo is somewhat lacking in sheer throughput. Much of the construction and infrastructure is in anticipation of Mexican trucking being allowed on the entire National Highway System, but these bills have been consistently been shot down in Congress over environmental and competition issues.

This all being said, downtown Laredo is very nice - dense and vibrant, owing to much of the foot traffic that crosses over from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. It certainly shows much of its Mexican influence, but is undoubtedly American.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 09:20 PM   #4386
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Here's a link to Transport for America's breakdown of the draft transportation bill:

http://t4america.org/blog/2009/06/18...-bill-outline/

I hope Oberstar doesn't back down from Obama and gets this important piece of legislation passed this year.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 09:29 PM   #4387
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Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota released his draft of the six-year federal transportation bill last week. It's pricetag is $450 billion, a 57% increase over the $286.5 billion bill that Bush signed in 2005 and expires later this year.

The Obama administration lopped off its balls and doesn't want the bill to be passed until 2011, because they are too chickenshit to raise the gas tax to help pay for it. The draft of the bill has $337 billion for roads and $99 billion for transit. It would also create a national infrastructure bank to help fund transportation improvements across the country.
Raising consumptive taxes in a recessionary economy is both political and economic suicide. Unfortunately, it also has to be done. 2011 gets them past the midterm elections, which will be the last one with the current congressional district lines (redistricting after the 2010 Census, current lines generally demographically favor Republicans in swing states). Crappy, but that's politics for you.

Hopefully this draft isn't gutted too much and significantly enhances infrastructure expenditures. Lord knows we need it - infrastructure, when applied properly, is as good of an indirect investment as we can make, and a sizable economic engine.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 09:35 PM   #4388
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Raising consumptive taxes in a recessionary economy is both political and economic suicide. Unfortunately, it also has to be done. 2011 gets them past the midterm elections, which will be the last one with the current congressional district lines (redistricting after the 2010 Census, current lines generally demographically favor Republicans in swing states). Crappy, but that's politics for you.

Hopefully this draft isn't gutted too much and significantly enhances infrastructure expenditures. Lord knows we need it - infrastructure, when applied properly, is as good of an indirect investment as we can make, and a sizable economic engine.
Well, the Economist said that congestion pricing could be an alternative form of financing. I don't know how that would work, perhaps by installing cameras to take pictures of automobile license plates as they enter the city center on a freeway. The public just has to be made aware that an increase in the gas tax or a congestion charge would be accompanied by major investments in mass transit and high speed rail, giving them alternatives to driving.

Here is an article in the LA Times by conservative GOP pollster Frank Luntz stating that according to his research, 81% of Americans support raising taxes to increase infrastructure spending: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/...,2761866.story
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 09:39 PM   #4389
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Nice picture of I-35 in Laredo, Texas.
[IMG]http://i42.************/29f8i9e.jpg[/IMG]
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Nice picture. Downtown Laredo and Neuvo Laredo is the opposite direction. It's a nice looking town.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 09:47 PM   #4390
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How much maintenance do they actually do on freeways in the U.S.? Many Interstates seem to have the same concrete pavement as they did when they were constructed in the 1950's/1960's.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 10:09 PM   #4391
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Well, the Economist said that congestion pricing could be an alternative form of financing. I don't know how that would work, perhaps by installing cameras to take pictures of automobile license plates as they enter the city center on a freeway. The public just has to be made aware that an increase in the gas tax or a congestion charge would be accompanied by major investments in mass transit and high speed rail, giving them alternatives to driving.

Here is an article in the LA Times by conservative GOP pollster Frank Luntz stating that according to his research, 81% of Americans support raising taxes to increase infrastructure spending: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/...,2761866.story
It would be interesting to see how that question was worded in that poll. There's a world of difference between "Do you generally support the increase of public revenue to improve infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, water works and transit?" and "Do you think the government should raise taxes to pay for projects like rail, buses and other forms of mass public transportation?" Freeways, of course, being a form of mass transit.

Workable congestion charges run into problems from suburban residents, such as what we've seen in NYC from their CC plans. Of course, the part that is rarely mentioned is that most people driving into Manhattan already pay a sort of congestion charge through bridge tolls - it's just that those revenues go to the Port Authority of NY/NJ instead of the MTA.

Americans also by and large strongly oppose placing tolls on previously free roads, even simply on reliever routes. Plans in Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Texas have met significant opposition from both residents and interstate traffic, including the trucking industry, which has a significant lobby in Congress. A reliever toll road in Houston for I-45 North struggled to keep up with projected revenue until a direct connection to the airport was built; people would rather just stay on the Interstate and tough out the traffic than pay the tolls.

I think vignettes for trucks may be a better option, progressively scaled based on annual mileage (the ones who use the roads the most should pay the most), but that has political problems as well.

Finally, when it comes to the gas tax, this simply must be raised, but considerations have to be made as to what the new "baseline" gas price will be. Simply hiking the hell out of it is a dangerous game to play and is most likely politically impossible. Figuring out that 2.25/gal or something like that is going to be the consistent level of gasoline price and raising taxes to bring in the same revenue when it was 1.30/gal is likely the most expedient and feasible means of increase.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 10:14 PM   #4392
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How much maintenance do they actually do on freeways in the U.S.? Many Interstates seem to have the same concrete pavement as they did when they were constructed in the 1950's/1960's.
Depends on the state. Texas generally reconstructs the road every 25-30 years, with some exceptions (a segment of I-45 south of Buffalo, TX has its original concrete from 1969, still in good condition), while other states have gone as long as 45 years between reconstructions.

Usually, resurfacing with asphalt occurs every 10 years or so.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 10:30 PM   #4393
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Workable congestion charges run into problems from suburban residents, such as what we've seen in NYC from their CC plans. Of course, the part that is rarely mentioned is that most people driving into Manhattan already pay a sort of congestion charge through bridge tolls - it's just that those revenues go to the Port Authority of NY/NJ instead of the MTA.
I believe the bridge tolls within New York are going to the MTA, but the New Jersey - New York connections are not.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 10:57 PM   #4394
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How much maintenance do they actually do on freeways in the U.S.? Many Interstates seem to have the same concrete pavement as they did when they were constructed in the 1950's/1960's.
It depends on construction type, condition of surfacing, and whether traffic is growing robustly enough that the road will eventually need to be widened. Asphalt requires periodic resurfacing, but there are plenty of freeways with concrete surfaces over 40 years old which are still in good condition and are typically left alone unless the freeway needs to be widened. There have also been successful attempts in various places (including part of I-90 in Washington state) to build "perpetual" asphalt pavements, which are built with enough depth that they resist structural deformation and so will never need reconstruction as long as they receive periodic resurfacing.

In Kansas most freeways were built in concrete east of Salina, and in asphalt west of Salina, because good aggregate for concrete is more plentiful in the eastern part of the state. Interstate construction got underway in the mid-1950's and was essentially complete by 1970. In rural areas the original concrete surfaces performed mediocrely and in many places needed asphalt overlays to maintain ride quality. Eventually they were programmed for replacement through full-depth reconstruction, which occurred during the 1990's. Original slab depth was 8" to 10", but this was replaced with 12" slabs laid down to very strict surface profile standards. Because traffic volumes are unlikely to increase to the extent that widening is necessary, these reconstructed pavements are designed to last for the foreseeable future.

In Wichita, I-235 (completed 1965) still has its original concrete pavement, which continues to provide excellent ride quality.

In California, the state's first freeway (first called Arroyo Seco Parkway, then renamed Pasadena Freeway, now about to be the Arroyo Seco Parkway again) still has its original 70-year-old concrete pavement.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 01:45 AM   #4395
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I believe the bridge tolls within New York are going to the MTA, but the New Jersey - New York connections are not.
Turns out you're right, with the exception that the intrastate connections go to the NYCDOT, which of course raises a whole other set of issues.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 04:28 AM   #4396
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Yeah, that's what happens when suburban development hits rural Texas interstates. Never looks very good.

This section of interstate is actually pretty interesting - the flyover in the distance is where State Loop 20 hits I-35. Much of the truck traffic coming from Mexico into the 20 mile trade zone takes this route, since the I-35 route through downtown Laredo is somewhat lacking in sheer throughput. Much of the construction and infrastructure is in anticipation of Mexican trucking being allowed on the entire National Highway System, but these bills have been consistently been shot down in Congress over environmental and competition issues.

This all being said, downtown Laredo is very nice - dense and vibrant, owing to much of the foot traffic that crosses over from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. It certainly shows much of its Mexican influence, but is undoubtedly American.
Do you think most of urban Texas looks much different than that? I've travelled through Dallas and Houston pretty extensively and - outside of downtown - it basically looks like that, except even worse. There's just more lanes, more traffic, more Walmarts, more Motel 6's, more "El Loco Tacos" type places, all with big, ugly signs so that the person on the 16th lane of opposite side traffic can see it.



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Old June 23rd, 2009, 04:39 AM   #4397
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That's what I meant earlier. Texas highways are very functional and do their job very well, but they are some of the ugliest highways in the entire country when it comes to what they attract as well as aesthetics alone.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 04:41 AM   #4398
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That's quite dangerous with an onramp before the offramp. Have you americans heard of this new european thing we call "Safety"?
Around here, exits are spaced to a level making this scenario rare. I can only think of one real exit where this situation is done (and it's horrible, yes), but it's in a not-busy area so it's not that dangerous at most times.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 10:19 AM   #4399
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That's what I meant earlier. Texas highways are very functional and do their job very well, but they are some of the ugliest highways in the entire country when it comes to what they attract as well as aesthetics alone.
It would be better if there were more strict billboard restrictions, and a couple of malls instead one line of businesses.

The hub-and-spoke system of Houston has the advantage being efficient, but because of the larger distances to the freeways outside the central city means that you need wider freeways because more people are dependent on one freeway. It's basically a choice between 10 lane radial freeways, or a denser network of 6-lane freeways.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 11:58 AM   #4400
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About the road quality. Situations like this would be totally unacceptable in Europe.. You won't even find this in countries like Poland or Romania on freeways.

Location: I-43 near Milwaukee.
[IMG]http://i42.************/2rzunv4.jpg[/IMG]
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