Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Speaking of Prop 1....

HPRA URGES DEFEAT OF PROPOSITION 1 and calls for reframing our understanding of mobility

The Houston Property Rights Association is announcing its opposition to Proposition 1, the constitutional amendment on the November 4, 2014 Texas ballot that would redirect half the funds flowing to the Rainy Day Fund to the Texas Department of Transportation. The result is that TxDOT would see its annual revenue grow by $1.7 billion yearly, or $3.4 billion each biennium.

Below is a resolution HPRA is circulating around Texas and an article with links to explain our position. After that is a posting from Ballotpedia with more information, including full language of the proposition.

Civil engineers never look at the bottom line on traffic outcomes which is found in Census Bureau reports. That data, which has been consistent for decades, shows that in spite of slow growth in highway capacity the average travel time for Texas commuters stays under half an hour.

It’s probably true that the aging road system needs attention, but defeating Prop 1 means that the whole issue of “road needs” (aka “mobility needs” ) can be rethought with better information to allow a reframing, to be followed with a proposal for a smaller construction program than the $5 billion yearly TxDOT says is needed.

Highway advocates have announced plans to push for more money in the 2015 session. Taxpayers need to recognize this as a watershed moment. A no vote will catalyze a long needed statewide conversation that can bring realism to transportation policy setting.

1. Whereas, There is historical evidence that humans generally keep their average commute times to half an hour or less;

2. Whereas, Some engineers still rely on the classic Levels Of Service metric, though it is a subjective and obsolete standard, fashioned with a questionable goal of maximizing vehicle throughput;

3. Whereas, In recent years engineers are beginning to reject LOS, some preferring to stress Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS), a flexible approach to transportation planning that is now incorporated into Federal Highway Administration policy; 

4. Whereas, In spite of CSS as an alternative way to evaluate mobility needs, many engineers still rely on computer models to project congestion a generation into the future.

5. Whereas, These models of future traffic lack the ability to incorporate changes in road user behavior (most importantly: employers, retailers, and commuters) known to occur that keep most work trips at 30 minutes or less, as reflected in census bureau data;

6. Whereas, Research engineer Tim Lomax, renowned for his work on the Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Urban Mobility Report, has acknowledged that the TTI traffic model does not reflect the fact that commuters change jobs, or move to dwellings closer to their jobs, when the time consumed by the worktrip becomes unacceptable; be it

RESOLVED, That people learn how to make a road system serve their purposes in spite of growing congestion, and

RESOLVED, That the (insert group name) is unpersuaded that the Texas Department of Transportation needs $1.7 billion of additional annual revenue to fight congestion, and

RESOLVED, That (group name) urges Texas voters to reject the constitutional amendment diverting an estimated $1.7 billion yearly from the "rainy day fund” to TxDOT.

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