Recently, the well known head of the CTRMA (the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority), Mike Heiligenstein participated in a large scale transportation forum. The forum was constructed as a Q & A with the first question for the former Round Rock City council member and county commissioner being largely confined to the future fate of toll roads in Texas at large.
More specifically, the questioner notes that State Highway 130 has been through a two fold credit downsizing due to low traffic and wonders why so few Texans are driving on 130?
Mike Heiligenstein notes that the case of state highway 130 is a very peculiar one and that the first and main thing to understand is that the situation is nearly insurmountable within the expected timeframes (usually somewhere in the ballpark of 20 years or so).
The reason for this is that interstate 35 runs through geographically vexing areas such as the Colorado River which makes building extra lanes a utter impossibility. Coupled with the geographic challenges is the human element – very, very few cities wish to allow large lanes (whether vertically or horizontally) to be built in or through their districts. Learn more about Mike Heiligenstein: http://www.mobilityauthority.com/about/
Last, but certainly not least, the vast majority of traffic which many of the major areas in Texas, such as Austin and San Antonio, receive is local or regional traffic, not out of state. What this means is that even if new and more versatile lanes were built there still would not be much improvement due to the fact that the behavioral patterns of the drivers would still be the same.
What really needs to change, according to Mr. Heiligenstein is, not just the modality of the roads nor the lane capacity but also the travel behavior itself which can be modified through certain built in incentives.