Planetizen recently reported on the decision in Texas to turn some paved roads back into gravel. "Unable to find funding to repair roads damaged by the booming oil industry traffic, Texas will convert asphalt roads to gravel. Texas's gas tax is among the lowest in the nation."
As well as having a low gas tax a move to apply extra "fees to energy companies whose trucks appear to be the major source of the road damage" has "failed to gain traction".
There are several interesting points to this story.
Who should responsible for repairing the damage? Can a single user group be singled out? Why has the move to apply extra fees to an industry known to be causing damage "failed to gain traction"?
The speed limit will be reduced to 30 mph when these roads revert to gravel. Will drivers adhere to this? Will accident rates go up or down? Will the change to gravel lower property values as some land owners fear? Will this make any difference to the safety of pedestrians? Are there any pedestrians? These are rural "farm to market" road so maybe not.
i don't have any answers but it will be interesting to follow the effects of this decision. Push back against the change is gaining momentum but if the state listens and finds the money to repair the roads and keep them in asphalt, where will the money come from? One option under consideration is to divert money from Texas's Rainy Day Fund but since when is maintenance of infrastructure a 'Rainy Day" situation? This is maintenance after all.
Author: Nina Arron
I am an enthusiastic pedestrian, urban planner, and project manager currently living in New Rochelle, New York. I am grateful to be living in a walkable city with affordable easily accessible public transport (both trains and buses). My appreciation became even greater after spending three years back in New Zealand where it was much harder to fit daily walking into my life in what is considered one of the great natural, green environments in the world.