There seems to be some sort of metaphor here. Compare and contrast, Illinois vs. Texas…
Illinois increases highway speeds:
Drivers tooling through the Illinois countryside will be able to nudge the gas pedal a little harder next year after Gov. Pat Quinn overcame safety concerns and approved legislation Monday that will raise the speed limit on rural interstates to 70 mph.
Dodging a possible veto showdown, Quinn signed the measure despite opposition from the Illinois Department of Transportation, state police and leading roadway safety organizations, who feared increased mayhem on the highways, especially between cars and trucks.
“This limited 5 miles-per-hour increase will bring Illinois’ rural interstate speed limits in line with our neighbors’ and the majority of states across America, while preventing an increase in excessive speeding,” Quinn said in a statement.
The six-county Chicago region — home to some of the nation’s busiest interstates — would be allowed to set lower speed limits under the law, as would two Illinois counties near St. Louis. The speed limit would increase on the Illinois Tollway but also could be kept at current limits on some stretches, according to the governor’s office.
The speed limit in Illinois is 55 mph in metropolitan areas and 65 on rural highways. But on Jan. 1, Illinois will become the 37th state to approve limits of 70 mph or higher since the national speed limit was repealed almost two decades ago.
(click here to continue reading Quinn signs 70 mph speed limit law for Illinois – chicagotribune.com.)
Steep Road Ahead
while in some areas of Texas, the conservative mantra of private profit over public services finally yields to reality – the government cannot afford to maintain the roads anymore.
Citing a funding shortfall and the impact of a historic oil drilling boom, Texas Department of Transportation officials on Thursday announced plans to move forward with converting some roads in West and South Texas to gravel.
Approximately 83 miles of asphalt roads will be torn up and converted to “unpaved” roads, TxDOT Deputy Executive Director John Barton said. The speed limits on those roads will probably be reduced to 30 mph.
“We would do these immediately, and I would suspect we would continue to convert other roadway segments as we continue to move forward,” Barton told the Texas Transportation Commission.
All of the affected roads have been so heavily damaged by truck activity related to oil and natural gas exploration that they have become safety hazards, Barton said. The process of converting the roads to gravel can be done quickly but will probably be delayed a few weeks as TxDOT gets permission from the commissioners to lower the speed limits on all of the impacted segments, Barton said.
The impacted roads are in four South Texas counties — Live Oak, Dimmit, LaSalle and Zavala — and two West Texas counties — Reeves and Culberson. The list of impacted roads includes a three-mile stretch of frontage road for Interstate 37 in Live Oak County. Barton said a plant that processes oil and natural gas has dramatically increased the truck traffic on that road.
“Instead of whipping in at 70 miles per hour, they’ll have to move in there at 30 miles per hour,” Barton said.
(click here to continue reading TxDOT Plans to Convert Some Roads to Gravel | The Texas Tribune.)
Illinois is no haven of joy, but at least the IL government isn’t so cowed by corporations they cannot collect enough in taxes to keep roads paved…
The part I cannot understand is why Rick Perry’s friends in the oil industry are allowing this to happen. Won’t slower traffic impact profits?
Austin Capitol From The Left Side
Steve Benen adds:
The state legislature briefly considered tax increases on energy companies — the companies that have benefited greatly from the energy boom, and which are chiefly responsible for pushing the roads quite literally past the breaking point — but as you might have guessed, those proposals faced stiff political opposition and never gained traction in Austin.
Darlene Meyer, a 77-year-old rancher whose property sits along a state road marked for conversion to gravel, told the Texas Tribune, “Texas used to have the best roads…. I just can’t believe the Department of Transportation is going back to the dark ages.”
…On the one hand, Gov. Rick Perry (R) believes Texas’ economy is amazing, and he’s managed to strike the perfect balance between meeting the public’s needs and keeping the private sector happy. Every other state, the governor assures us, should be following Texas’ lead — after all, thanks to the energy sector, the Lone Star State has plenty of money.
On the other hand, thanks to wear and tear from the oil companies, which have made themselves remarkably rich from Texas’ resources, Texas can no longer afford to pave many of its roads, and will instead transition from pavement to gravel.
(click here to continue reading A different kind of Stone Age – The Maddow Blog.)