DEADLY BY DESIGN

ausin-traffic-crop

Texas highways are killing people.

They’re not killing just reckless, distracted, or careless people – they’re killing careful people too. And it’s not just motorists, and bicyclists – they’re even killing pedestrians.

The Texas Highway Department was once admired for it’s fine road design, maintenance and innovation. Those days are long gone.

Today, as a politically-connected shill for tollway purveyors – TxDOT is a mere shadow of its formerly grand self.  In fact, they’re so disconnected from the realities of highway design and safety, they’ve given that task over to Regional Mobility Authorities – who now function as their proxy.

There’s an important difference – RMA’s lack transparency, and they collect tolls.

Traffic and Transportation departments in most Texas cities are no different. They’ve become expensive playground for hare-brained projects and priorities that sap taxpayer money, and offer up citizen-killing design and maintenance.

Austin is on-pace for another record year of transportation deaths.

Yet instead of examining poorly designed and maintained city streets – city engineers are busily implementing expensive traffic calming islands, circlets, stanchioned bike lanes, and a hodge-podge of offset lane markings to accommodate consultants – not drivers.

During comparable years, there were 101 motor vehicle deaths in New York City – Austin had 70.  Statistically, you’re safer driving in New York.

Wonder why Austin drivers are at greater risk?

Forget asking a COA Traffic Engineer, P.E. – they can’t be bothered answering citizen concerns – they’ll even tell you so. They’re too busy implementing more consultant-driven traffic optimization and calming schemes to make roads even more dangerous.

Those COA traffic engineers passed the buck saying that highway and street safety was a political issue – not a design one. When queried about whether they felt an obligation to report obvious design safety hazards – the engineers claim a crunching workload keeps them from reviewing deadly designs.

If we can’t count on TxDOT, RMA’s, or even cities – where can we look for solutions?

Some of the finest transportation research and design initiatives in the world are going on just up State Highway 21 at the Texas Transportation Institute in College Station. Tested and proven innovations from TTI have saved many thousands of lives since they were created in 1950.

We must now enlist their wisdom and insights to return Texas highways, streets and roads to their ‘best in the nation’ legacy.

This year, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) celebrates 100 Years. Instead of celebrating – they should take a year to study the dismal record of how dangerous Texas highways have become.

In the fast fifteen years – there have been ZERO ‘deathless’ days on Texas roads.

 

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DEADLY BY DESIGN

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