Thursday, June 03, 2004

Gabriela Garcia: "The more entrances and exits you have, the more inefficient a corridor becomes."

San Antonio mulls road-rail corridor


Patrick Driscoll, Staff Writer
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2004

State officials are trying to figure out just where to put a corridor of toll lanes and rail lines that would run from Mexico to Oklahoma, and advocates in San Antonio have an idea.

Align the proposed corridor to pick up Loop 1604 on the east and south sides of Bexar County, near the future Toyota factory, say members of the San Antonio Mobility Coalition, a public-private, nonprofit group.

"So we can correspondingly develop the 1604 corridor," said Tom Griebel, director of the coalition.

The planned toll road and rail lines are part of the Trans Texas Corridor, a 4,000-mile network that will crisscross the state. The sweeping vision looks 50 years ahead and could cost an estimated $183 billion.

The proposal calls for six car lanes, four truck lanes, rail for passengers and freight, and room for utility lines.

The purpose is to allow long-distance travelers to go around congested urban areas. To help keep traffic flowing, there would be no frontage roads and fewer entrance and exit ramps than other highways.

"The more entrances and exits you have, the more inefficient a corridor becomes," said Gabriela Garcia, a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of Transportation in Austin.

The Transportation Department is seeking input on potential alignments for the segment east of Interstate 35 and another section along the coast and northeastern part of the state. Options are expected to be narrowed down next year.

The Transportation Department held a public meeting Wednesday in San Antonio.

John Karras, a college student who drives from New Braunfels to San Antonio almost every day, was among about two dozen people who showed up at the meeting. He said he's tired of just relying on I-35 for his trips, and as much as he loves his car, he would ride commuter rail.

The study area for the corridor along I-35 is up to 60 miles wide and 800 miles long. It cuts through 71 counties and skirts Loop 1604 in Bexar County.

Among questions to be answered are how Texas 130, a toll road that will go from Seguin to Georgetown, and a proposed commuter rail line between San Antonio and Austin would fit in with the Trans Texas Corridor. The projects could be merged or kept separate.

The deadline for written comments on the segment along I-35 is June 25. They can be submitted online at or mailed to Trans-Texas Corridor, P.O. Box 14707, Austin, TX 78761-4707.

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