Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I-81 Study: Stating the Obvious?

The Bristol Herald Courier vents its dissatisfaction with the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposal to widen Interstate 81. "To a disappointing extent, the exhaustive study of the impact of an expanded Interstate 81 only tells us what we already knew," says an editorial this morning.

The report calls plans to create truck-only toll lanes unsafe and unnecessary. The paper argues that the state should call off its negotiations with Star Solutions, the consortium that proposes the truck-only approach, since that's off the table.
'Instead, the study favors targeted expansion of the interstate, adding an additional lane in each direction in most places to take the highway to six lanes and expanding beyond that at certain choke points. Other safety changes get a strong nod, including wider shoulders, re-engineered exit ramps and a complete reworking of the maddening and dangerous interchange at Exit 14 in Abingdon.'
Okay, if this study is valid, then why wasn't it done three years ago? Instead, the Star Solutions approach is being slammed as "excessive, cost-prohibitive and potentially unsafe." So where's the private-sector innovation here?


At 2:10 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said...

B/c Norfolk Southern is too damn lazy to get a system where they can ship stuff in a timey manner.
Then they could haul something other than coal, lumber and grain (even though thats a pretty good business right there).

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Jim Bacon said...

Bob asks, "Where's the private sector innovation?"

The STAR proposal is plenty innovative. It's also gold-plated and uneconomical. Not all private-sector ideas are created equal. Some are good, some are terrible. It's up to VDOT to decide which ones are most closely aligned with the state's long-term transportation priorities.

VDOT is driven by legally mandated processes; the thinking of VDOT planners becomes constrained by those processes. It's important to encourage outside-the-box thinking from the private sector. At the same time, VDOT probably didn't need to take three years to conclude that the STAR proposal is unworkable.

At 9:14 AM, Blogger Bob Burke said...

Yea, all hail the private sector. We should at least note that, had VDOT spent three years coming up with this idea, its would get cut to pieces by critics. STAR was the de facto transportation planner for the state on this project and the bottom line is, they did a bad job.
So, how can VDOT earlier in the process sort out the innovation from the boondoggle?

At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rail freight averages 20MPH, trucks 45 MPH. Several short haul intermodal services have been tried and abandoned. Maybe N/S is just smart.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

I'd like to see the safety analysis that concluded separate truck lanes were more dangerous than mixing heavy trucks and cars - or cars with heavy trucks, depending on whose numbers you choose to believe.


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