Willie: “Texas Roads Suck”

In the November 3rd issue, Willie Nelson talks to Rolling Stone about his latest venture BioWillie (which makes biodiesel fuels). When asked what he wants his pal gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman to focus on in the upcoming election, here’s what he said:

What Kinky oughta talk about are these damn roads in Texas. We used to have the smoothest roads in the world. I used to be able to be asleep at night and know when we’ve crossed into Texas from Arkansas, because the roads got smoother. Now we’ve got the worst fucking roads in the world.

Truckers seem to disagree.

Update: There’s some interesting fodder for the rumor mill about Austin’s transportation planning by Julio in the comments: “The Austin District has the state’s worst transportation planning. Their former district engineer hoarded his state money and expected the feds to pay for everything. That’s why there is only one lane on the flyover from IH 35 north to US 183 north. The district is also quick to back off a project if a group of wealthy politically-connected white locals complain. That’s why LOOP 1 doesn’t loop.” There’s some more Loop 1 (Mopac) history here and here. I suppose he’s referring to former Austin district engineer Bill Garbade, who was succeeded by current district engineer Bob Daigh in September 2003.

8 Comments so far

  1. Sam Kelly (unregistered) on October 26th, 2005 @ 12:48 pm

    Texas may have a nice interstate system, but its highways and municipal roadways are complete crap.

    Take Austin for example, it’s pathetic but you can actually justify having a SUV or truck simply by how blown-out and riddled with potholes a great mass of our streets are.

    Poor quality of construction + lack of local & state initiative + no state taxes to allocate adequete funds = shitty roads.


  2. Julio Quapish (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2005 @ 4:14 pm

    The quality of Texas roads depends largely on where you are in the state. TxDOT is split into 25 districts, which in effect act as little fiefdoms. They set their own priorities as to when, where and how roads are built and maintained. I worked for TxDOT for 2 1/2 years and traveled all over the state in my job. The San Antonio District has the best roads, and the Abilene District has the worst – their own employees will tell you that.

    The Austin District has the state’s worst transportation planning. Their former district engineer hoarded his state money and expected the feds to pay for everything. That’s why there is only one lane on the flyover from IH 35 north to US 183 north. The district is also quick to back off a project if a group of wealthy politically-connected white locals complain. That’s why LOOP 1 doesn’t loop.


  3. M1EK (unregistered) on November 5th, 2005 @ 8:41 am

    This stuff is SO charming.

    Guys, educate yourselves before you speak. Austin would have committed financial suicide by double-decking Mopac – sending property values in its most lucrative neighborhoods into the trash so that people in Cedar Park could get downtown a bit quicker.

    Posts on this subject which might educate:

    http://mdahmus.thebaba.com/blog/archives/000117.html
    http://mdahmus.thebaba.com/blog/archives/000118.html
    http://mdahmus.thebaba.com/blog/archives/000119.html
    http://mdahmus.thebaba.com/blog/archives/000120.html

    General category:

    http://mdahmus.thebaba.com/blog/archives/cat_funding_of_transportation.html


  4. M1EK (unregistered) on November 5th, 2005 @ 8:42 am

    This stuff is SO charming.

    Guys, educate yourselves before you speak. Austin would have committed financial suicide by double-decking Mopac – sending property values in its most lucrative neighborhoods into the trash so that people in Cedar Park could get downtown a bit quicker.

    (I tried to include a list of specific posts, but it made my comment get dumped. See the link below and go from the BOTTOM up; i.e., go to the EARLIEST posts, that’s where the relevant material is for this discussion).

    General category:

    http://mdahmus.thebaba.com/blog/archives/cat_funding_of_transportation.html


  5. omit (unregistered) on November 5th, 2005 @ 10:26 am

    Double-decking Mopac? I didn’t see anyone mention that. But why did the 183 – I-35 connections get so short-changed?


  6. M1EK (unregistered) on November 5th, 2005 @ 11:06 am

    OMIT,

    Yes, double-decking Mopac. The new “managed lanes” were going to have to be elevated. Also, some new braided ramps (like on 183 between Burnet and Lamar). If they had built that, you’d have highway noise like you have near US 183 extending a half-mile or a mile each way, wiping out a ton of Austin’s best property values. Financial suicide for the city.

    As for 183/I-35 connections, I have no idea.


  7. Julio Quapish (unregistered) on November 9th, 2005 @ 10:43 am

    I never said anything about double-decking Mopac. Perhaps M1EK should read the previous posts before commenting on them.

    An elevated section was originally proposed for the section between Far West and Town Lake, but was poorly received at a heated public meeting in 2002 (Ann Richards even showed up to speak against it). Ultimately it was scrapped. Last I heard there were plans to to add two limited access toll lanes between 183 and Town Lake, but I don’t know how they could fit given the narrow width of the right-of-way through that section.


  8. M1EK (unregistered) on November 9th, 2005 @ 9:43 pm

    Julio,

    There is no way two more lanes can fit with bidirectional rail on Mopac in the existing right-of-way. Hence, either elevate or bulldoze houses. Plus, the braided ramps would still be a problem either way, so you’d get bulldozed ramps PLUS the noise from the elevation.



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