Rick Perry vs. the World *
Tracking the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race.
* Now at the new Rick Perry vs World

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
USAToday looks at the Trans-Texas Corridor
USAToday: Texas is set to supersize highways

USAToday has a mostly positive profile of Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor. It notes that the goal is to relieve traffic in Texas' forever-booming cities and suburbs by building superhighways for long-distance traffic. It recounts the objections from environmentalists, farmers and ranchers, and small towns along interstates.

My question: how much of the current traffic on I-35 is long-distance and how much is commuter traffic? If we build it, can we be confident that it will reduce traffic? I checked the Trans-Texas Corridor website, and didn't find an answer. I'll send them an email and see if they respond.

That said, I think Perry deserves credit for trying to tackle a long-term problem that doesn't have any easy solutions. As I've said before, I think he loses votes for the program. Nobody is going to vote for Perry because he sells TTC as a traffic-reducing or economy-growing program. It's too abstract.

Those who oppose TTC are likely to be motivated to vote against Perry. Small towns along current interstates want to protect their monopoly on traffic. Building the TTC -- whether good policy or not -- hurts them. Similarly, those farmers and ranchers at risk of having their farms and ranches split in half, aren't likely to feel kindly towards Perry.

How many votes is this? Tough to say, since most of the primary vote is in the suburbs. It's not something that could swing a race unless it's very close. I'm thinking it's a couple thousand votes at best.

Of course, the timing should dampen folks' motivation to turnout against Perry. The GOP primary is in 12 months, and the general in 19. Most farmers and ranchers won't get exercised about the TTC until they see the actual route. Same with small towns. My guess is that we won't see a specific route proposal until after the general. [Strike this paragraph, see update]

Update: The HouChron also writes on the TTC. I should also note that maybe we will have a specific route proposal around election time, since federal approval is expected in spring 2006. I'm guessing that probably means we will have a specific route by the primary election.

And on second thought, Hutchison's main theme will probably be that Perry has failed to solve problems and accomplish big things (like school finance). So the TTC will be something concrete (pun intended) for Perry to point to.

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