Transportation | Texas Public Radio

Transportation

Shelley Kofler / Texas Public Radio

As San Antonio prepares to add more than 1.6 million new residents it holds the distinction of being the largest city in the country without a rail system to move them. 

This week Texas Public Radio’s Growing Pains Project is looking at options in a series of stories we’re calling, “Stuck Behind the Wheel.”

Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio

Here are a few facts guaranteed to get your attention:  

The San Antonio area adds 146 new residents every day, and they’re bringing their cars.

A 50 minute drive today is expected to take 91 minutes in 2040.  

By then, 39 percent of our roadways will be severely congested all day long.

This week Texas Public Radio’s “Growing Pains” project takes a look at options for getting ahead of the traffic jam,  with a series of reports, “Stuck Behind The Wheel.” We start by looking at how San Antonio’s primary form of mass transit could be part of the solution. 

When the Texas Highway Department was established in Texas in 1917 there were only about 200-thousand cars in Texas.

And those drivers only had fewer than a thousand miles of paved roads in the entire state.

Today the Texas Department of Transportation, TxDot, is responsible for more than 80,000 miles of state paved roads that accommodate more than 25 million vehicles.

A speeding bullet may be coming to San Antonio that will be able to transport you to Austin in 15 minutes. Transonic Transportation is working on the Hyperloop, a capsule like car that will run 600 mph, and only cost $10 to ride.

The Hyperloop is still ten years away. Cars like it are being planned in multiple cities, but none exist yet anywhere in the world. Josh Manriquez is the CEO of Transonic Transportation, a San Antonio-based company.

Sixty years ago today, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Highway Act of 1956. It marked the birth of the interstate highway system, now a 47,000-mile network designed to ease crowded, crumbling roads in post-war America.

At the time, it was sold as one of the most ambitious public works projects ever, but six decades later, many interstates are overcrowded and under maintained. Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson speaks with William Wilkins of The Road Information Program.

Lone Star Rail District

The plan to build a commuter rail between San Antonio and Austin is not dead, even though Union Pacific terminated its Memorandum of Understanding earlier this year.

Around the world, subway projects are booming. New metros have sprung up or are in the works in Brazil, Saudi Arabia and India, and China announced several years ago that it would build 25 new subway systems. But in the United States, investment in new subways has lagged.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks to Fred Salvucci, senior lecturer in civil and environmental engineering at MIT and former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation, about what state and local governments should be doing about transportation for the future.

Ryan E. Poppe

State Highway 130 boasts miles of high-speed, uncongested road. Sadly for the public-private partnership that built the road for the Texas Department of Transportation and now manages the toll road, it is too uncongested to meet the debt obligation it took to build. 

Ryan E. Poppe

In 2012, Cintra, a Spanish transportation company, and San Antonio-based Zachry American Infrastructure formed a partnership.  They called it the SH 130 Concession Company, and negotiated a 50-year contract with the state to maintain 41 miles of the SH 130 toll road.  In exchange the state would share a portion of the tolls collected from drivers.

Amid low gas prices and a stronger economy, Americans are driving more than ever before, with new federal government figures showing traffic volumes are at an all-time high.

However, there is a downside to this resurgence of driving: increased traffic congestion and pollution.

New data from the Federal Highway Administration show that Americans drove a record 3.15 trillion vehicle miles last year — that's the equivalent of traveling from Earth to Pluto and back 337 times.

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