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Novacek Mar 9, 2021 4:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Riverranchdrone (Post 9211893)
Pretty sure the toll roads caused the sprawling growth.

Highways cause the sprawling growth.

Yeah, toll roads are bad for that, but free highways are even worse. It removes what little price sensitivity exists on sprawl growth.

Novacek Mar 9, 2021 4:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Riverranchdrone (Post 9211889)
You mean the ones not built yet?

Toll loop 1, already exists, in non-poverty area.
Mopac tolls, already exists, in non-poverty area.
45 SW, already exists, in non-poverty area.
45 N, already exists, in non-poverty area.
183A, already exists, in non-poverty area.
130 from 290 to Georgetown, already exists, in non-poverty area.
290, already exists, half the service area (northern half) is non-poverty.

zrx299 Mar 9, 2021 4:50 PM

Every one of these roads has the free parallel service roads right there for use.
No one is forcing anyone to pay to bypass stop lights, it's a choice.

Sprawl has its costs. It's also incomplete to talk about suburban highways without factoring in current zoning and land use issues in and around the city.

GoldenBoot Mar 9, 2021 6:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Riverranchdrone (Post 9211893)
Pretty sure the toll roads caused the sprawling growth.

Freeways, toll roads, highways and major thoroughfares all aid in urban sprawl. It's not one single thing.

One small example: The city of Bee Cave had a population of roughly 650 in 2000 (with no ETJ). As of March 2020, the City of Bee Cave estimated its population to be a hair over 8,600 (in the city - plus another 5,400 in its small ETJ).

Its neighbor, Lakeway, has grown from roughly 8,000 (in 2000) to over 18,000 today.

That's some sprawl without a freeway or toll road. I'm sure they'd build one - but, it's too expensive to build a freeway/tollway through the hills. Wide highways like Loop-360 and TX-71 is what we'll see for a while.

KevinFromTexas Mar 9, 2021 7:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zrx299 (Post 9211922)
Every one of these roads has the free parallel service roads right there for use.
No one is forcing anyone to pay to bypass stop lights, it's a choice.

Sprawl has its costs. It's also incomplete to talk about suburban highways without factoring in current zoning and land use issues in and around the city.

That's true in Austin, for the most part, though, if Mopac were tolled you wouldn't have that option since there are no frontage roads. And the toll roads I've seen in Houston give you no option either since there isn't an access road there. The one I'm thinking of there we have to drive on to get to a friend's house for several miles, and there's no other option because they sort of live out in the boonies north of The Woodlands.

JollyvilleJ-Rad Mar 9, 2021 8:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zrx299 (Post 9211922)
Every one of these roads has the free parallel service roads right there for use.
No one is forcing anyone to pay to bypass stop lights, it's a choice.

Sprawl has its costs. It's also incomplete to talk about suburban highways without factoring in current zoning and land use issues in and around the city.

Most of them do, but not entirely. Anything that was approved before the state law took effect requiring free parallel roads have gaps in need of filling. 183A between Avery Ranch and 1431 should be added soon, though I'm not sure if the CAMPO re-allocation impacted that or not. Other gaps can be found on 45 between 620 and Mopac and also further east between RR and P-ville. Most of 130 also doesn't have continuous free frontage. I'm actually curious how 45 SW got around that requirement if anyone knows (perhaps environmental?).

I take the toll roads all the time and happily pay for the convenience, but ahealy started off the conversation mentioning the confusing alternate routes required to avoid tolls in RR/CP and he's right about that. It's not always as simple as keeping on the frontage road. Completely agree about zoning and land use impacting the sprawl induced by these roads.

drummer Mar 9, 2021 8:16 PM

My understanding, which could be completely incorrect but it's what I'm going with in this response, is that any toll roads built over existing roads needed the free option because it was "free" before. Unsure of how any more recent policy changes have or could impact this moving forward.

That said, I use toll roads more than some folks but I avoid them if I'm not in a hurry. It's purely a convenience for me as there are other options but all of those have multiple stoplights. Elsewhere in the world, nearly every restricted-access highway is a toll road. It's just how they're run, so I'm used to it.

I'm unsure of any specific situation where toll roads have been built replacing an existing "free" route and forcing individuals to use the tolled route. That said, TxDOT is a mess and the way that things are implemented in the Austin area compared to other large metros does seem to be a bit off, but I don't have anything to back that up.

electricron Mar 10, 2021 3:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by drummer (Post 9212236)
That said, TxDOT is a mess and the way that things are implemented in the Austin area compared to other large metros does seem to be a bit off, but I don't have anything to back that up.

The reason you do not have anything to back that statement up is because there is not anything to back it up. What you failed to realize is that TXDOT does not choose how things are implemented in small or large metro areas. The 24 regional councils within Texas do.
https://www.txregionalcouncil.org/di...about_tarc.php
"In addition, Texas’ regional councils of governments are responsible for regional planning activities that may differ from region to region, but typically include planning for economic growth, water supply and water quality, air quality, transportation, emergency preparedness, and the coordinated delivery of various social services."

And yes, you are 100% correct that what happens in the Austin area is different than what happens in San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. But the reason is not TXDOT, the reason is that the 24 regional councils operate independently from each other.

Novacek Mar 10, 2021 2:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by electricron (Post 9212632)
The reason you do not have anything to back that statement up is because there is not anything to back it up. What you failed to realize is that TXDOT does not choose how things are implemented in small or large metro areas. The 24 regional councils within Texas do.
https://www.txregionalcouncil.org/di...about_tarc.php
"In addition, Texas’ regional councils of governments are responsible for regional planning activities that may differ from region to region, but typically include planning for economic growth, water supply and water quality, air quality, transportation, emergency preparedness, and the coordinated delivery of various social services."

And yes, you are 100% correct that what happens in the Austin area is different than what happens in San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. But the reason is not TXDOT, the reason is that the 24 regional councils operate independently from each other.


That's.. not even close to being true.

130 isn't built where it is (and how, and operated that way) because of Capcog (or CAMPO). That was the state of Texas.

CAPCOG/CAMPO didn't say "hey, let's do the I35 project without any tolls". That was Texas.

CAMPO didn't cancel $600M of local projects on its own. TxDot told them to, and took the money.

ahealy Mar 10, 2021 2:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zrx299 (Post 9211922)
Every one of these roads has the free parallel service roads right there for use.
No one is forcing anyone to pay to bypass stop lights, it's a choice.

Sprawl has its costs. It's also incomplete to talk about suburban highways without factoring in current zoning and land use issues in and around the city.

Actually, this goes back to my op. I think the housing crisis/gentrification has its cost. My husband and I are in a tangled housing situation with a seller and have been waiting to close for nearly a year. IF we cannot close, we are priced out because of the housing crisis. RR/Pflugerville (sprawl) is our only viable option IF we could even land a house in those areas. In my experience, using the free alternatives to tolls here are a total nightmare for daily driving--I would be forced to use the them in order to get to work each day. There's no way in hell that would happen, so San Antonio would be our logical move away from Austin.

I don't mean to backtrack with funding talks, but my point is: the tolls here really really suck.

freerover Mar 10, 2021 4:02 PM

You guys think that if we didn’t toll then all the current toll roads would be free when the reality is most of them wouldn’t exist. That’s the choice.

Novacek Mar 10, 2021 4:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ahealy (Post 9212919)
Actually, this goes back to my op. I think the housing crisis/gentrification has its cost. My husband and I are in a tangled housing situation with a seller and have been waiting to close for nearly a year. IF we cannot close, we are priced out because of the housing crisis. RR/Pflugerville (sprawl) is our only viable option IF we could even land a house in those areas. In my experience, using the free alternatives to tolls here are a total nightmare for daily driving--I would be forced to use the them in order to get to work each day. There's no way in hell that would happen, so San Antonio would be our logical move away from Austin.

I don't mean to backtrack with funding talks, but my point is: the tolls here really really suck.

But as you describe, the issue isn't that "toll roads suck", it's that "Austin's Land development code sucks".

A bunch of "free" sprawling highways isn't a good solution to that.


Now, once we fix Austin's development, I'm of the opinion that people should be free to live how they want. That includes suburban living.

But they should be willing to pay the financial, societal, and environmental cost of doing so.

Toll roads don't capture those costs perfectly. Pretty far from it. But they do so better than general funding highways. They do so better than gas tax funding highways. They do so better than VMT funding highways.

KevinFromTexas Mar 10, 2021 9:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by freerover (Post 9213035)
You guys think that if we didn’t toll then all the current toll roads would be free when the reality is most of them wouldn’t exist. That’s the choice.

The funny thing is about the 290 and 183 tolls is that they're basically the same highways just new and fancy. The 290 segment just before you get to Elgin. It's not really all that different than it was before the tolls. Same for 183 up around Cedar Park and Leander since the old segment is still there. I think those are a bit silly. It's the ones that are truly new segments where there was previously nothing that are adding an improvement. SH 45 and 130 come to mind here.

freerover Mar 10, 2021 9:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KevinFromTexas (Post 9214064)
The funny thing is about the 290 and 183 tolls is that they're basically the same highways just new and fancy. The 290 segment just before you get to Elgin. It's not really all that different than it was before the tolls. Same for 183 up around Cedar Park and Leander since the old segment is still there. I think those are a bit silly. It's the ones that are truly new segments where there was previously nothing that are adding an improvement. SH 45 and 130 come to mind here.

I don't know the north section of 183 well enough but you are very wrong about the 183 south project in east Austin. It's nothing like what was there before. If your point is that "a kind of road existed" then sure but that's like comparing a go kart to nascar.

KevinFromTexas Mar 10, 2021 10:27 PM

Oh, I wasn't talking about 183 South, which, ironically, we use less than the 183 north section despite us living in South Austin. I haven't been on 183 on the east/southeast side of Austin in probably a year and a half at least maybe longer.

US 290 is the one I was mostly referring to. Just before you get to Elgin it really isn't any different. Just bigger and more fancy, but the allignment is mostly the same, and you can stay on the access, which we always do. It just doesn't make sense to jump on a toll road that is routed directly alongside a free roadway that takes you to precisely the same destination. And Elgin isn't exactly a bustling metropolis with traffic problems needing fixing.

The same goes for SH-71 east of the airport. It just seems silly to toll an area out there that gets so little traffic most of the time and with nowhere to go even if you do drive it. Now, SH-71 through Bastrop is another story. Traffic can be surprisingly bad through there at times, but that's quite a distance away from the toll on 71 near 130.

Novacek Mar 11, 2021 1:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KevinFromTexas (Post 9214187)

US 290 is the one I was mostly referring to. Just before you get to Elgin it really isn't any different. Just bigger and more fancy, but the allignment is mostly the same, and you can stay on the access, which we always do. It just doesn't make sense to jump on a toll road that is routed directly alongside a free roadway that takes you to precisely the same destination. And Elgin isn't exactly a bustling metropolis with traffic problems needing fixing.

290 toll stops before Manor. 10 miles from Elgin. That’s why the area around Elgin hasn’t changed.

ahealy Mar 11, 2021 2:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Novacek (Post 9213059)
But as you describe, the issue isn't that "toll roads suck", it's that "Austin's Land development code sucks".

A bunch of "free" sprawling highways isn't a good solution to that.


Now, once we fix Austin's development, I'm of the opinion that people should be free to live how they want. That includes suburban living.

But they should be willing to pay the financial, societal, and environmental cost of doing so.

Toll roads don't capture those costs perfectly. Pretty far from it. But they do so better than general funding highways. They do so better than gas tax funding highways. They do so better than VMT funding highways.

I once would have agreed with you (and I partially do), but without diving into anything too off topic I'll try and condense my feelings.

1. I hate this housing market...like REALLY hate it.
2. I hate the setup/design/idea of our tolls
3. I don't necessarily think sprawl is the big bad enemy anymore if we're taking into account new transit lines and more electric powered vehicles COMBINED with dense mixed-use housing in more suburban zones.

Azul Mar 11, 2021 1:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ahealy (Post 9214484)
3. I don't necessarily think sprawl is the big bad enemy anymore if we're taking into account new transit lines and more electric powered vehicles COMBINED with dense mixed-use housing in more suburban zones.


I know this is the "Transportation" topic, but there's plenty of other residual costs of sprawl that won't be solved by upcoming technological advancements, well, at least for what we know of now. The biggest issue with sprawl is the disproportionate costs of developing and maintaining new infrastructure to service those areas. While that includes things like roads and highways it also includes things like:
  • Water and wastewater systems
  • Electrical grid expansions and additions
  • Hospitals and EMS response
  • Fire and police stations and response
  • Schools (K-12)
  • Natural impacts


These, to me, are the big bad hidden costs of sprawl. Roads and highways may be the most frustrating item to talk about but this list of other items are just as expensive to the tax base, if not more, than transportation.

Tyrone Shoes Mar 11, 2021 2:58 PM

290/71 interchange
 
Since we're on the subject of toll roads, I am so very shocked that the 290/71 interchange isn't gonna be tolled.

StoOgE Mar 12, 2021 4:27 PM

Toll roads are fantastic in my opinion. If you want to move to the countryside and sprawl a city out beyond the stretches of its current infrastructure you should pay for it. I mean, in an actual perfect world I would want the developers that are dumping massive neighborhoods onto old farms and ranches to have to pay for these things, but generally the more rural (poorer funded) counties are falling all overthemselves to gain increased tax base and welcome them with open arms without realizing that all that new money they are getting has to go to... support the neighborhood that just went in.

I had a friend who was a mayor of a burb for a while and it was a never ending battle of "finding" new budget projections when a new neighborhood came in and then immediately realizing costs of running the city spiked and having to find more new revenue to pay for it.

I *do* wish there was a clearer plan for converting these into free highways down the road.


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