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Texas Road Planners Super-Size the Highway

By any measure, it would be a Texas-sized highway…a virtual blacktop behemoth.

Jim Vertuno of the Associated Press described it this way: “In what sounds like another tall tale told by a Texan, the state has embarked on an audacious project to build superhighways so big and so complex that they will make ordinary interstates look like cow paths.”

Audacious. That means bold, adventuresome, outrageous. Here's how audacious one of these roads, the Trans-Texas Corridor, would be. Picture a concrete ribbon as wide as five soccer fields, with separate lanes for trucks and freight trains and commuter rail. Even room for oil and gas pipelines and broadband voice and data cables.

This is Texas, after all, where one ranch, the King Ranch, covers 333,000 hectares -- a spread bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island. So Texas knows big!

But don't rush here to see the mega-highway construction project. It will take 50 years to build, if environmentalists and local landowners can't stop it.

The corridor's supporters say the Trans-Texas Corridor is needed because of the explosion in north-south traffic between Mexico and Canada, brought on by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

But history shows that highways are a bit like the baseball park that a fellow builds in the cornfields of Iowa in the American movie Field of Dreams. We construct broad new highways to relieve traffic congestion, only to see so many drivers pack the new road that an even bigger highway is needed. Bigger, someday, than the Trans-Texas Corridor. As the man said in Field of Dreams, “if you build it . . . they will come.”