Good News for Mobility
“Texas opens first 85-mph highway in U.S.,” is the partial headline from Yahoo! News about the opening of a high speed toll road. The article goes on to portray Texas State Route 130 (TX130/5&6) as a risky and dangerous venture. “But truckers may shun it,” concludes the headline. The reason is that “many trucking companies prevent their vehicles from going faster than 70 mph or 75 mph, he said, and fuel consumption goes up exponentially as speeds increase – potentially cutting into company profits.”
Then they don’t have to use it … or they can travel at a slower speed, say 75 mph. The other concern comes from people who automatically associate higher speeds with loss of life. “We all worry about safety. Such high speeds lead to worse accidents and a greater loss of life,” says Sandrea Helin of the Southwest Insurance Information Service. Yet that is not necessarily so. In fact, two highways in Texas have had 80 mph limits for 17 years, and it doesn’t appear that these stretches of road have had a disproportionately high rate of crashes and fatalities.
As for this new road, Texas State Route 130 is a toll road built privately. In other words, the taxpayer bears neither the risk nor the costs of maintenance. Those who want to use it pay for the privilege of driving on it. That is the future we should be looking to when assessing capacity needs in our own states.