Austin, San Antonio to tackle traffic congestion together
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Austin and San Antonio have teamed up to reduce traffic congestion between the two metropolitan areas, vowing to align transportation goals to manage population increases and traffic growth.
The cities' metro-area planners and the Texas Department of Transportation studied for over a year how to ease commuting within the regions, including along the busy Interstate 35 corridor.
"When we looked at the population projections of the San Antonio and Austin area, by 2050, we'll have the same population, if not more than what Dallas-Fort Worth has today," said Roger Beall, deputy director of the state agency's transportation, planning and programming division. "So we need to get ahead of the curve ... to take care of our transportation needs."
The study recommends more coordination and cooperation, but it doesn't outline next steps or funding options, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson said coordination is essential as the two metropolitan areas continue growing toward each other.
"Simple actions like meeting regularly to align similar work underway in each region, beginning to plan together and implementing technology uniformly will have positive impacts with relatively limited resources," Watson said.
He said a big challenge is the lack of available funds for the interstate's reconstruction.
Gov. Greg Abbott opposed a proposal to build toll lanes on Interstate 35, which Watson said was a critical part of the plan to ease congestion and fund construction.
The Republican-led Legislature will have to take action, such as raising revenue, authorizing debt or seeking private funding, Watson said.
"This is a big, once-in-a-generation project and it's not cheap," he said.
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com