Hope for Enlightened Transit

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 2, 2004

Dear Mr. Black,
   I am writing in response to Mike Clark-Madison's recent article entitled "Toll Roadkill" ["Austin@Large," News, July 23]. His views were perhaps some of the most balanced (analogies to ugly babies aside) and insightful views on the toll road and impending commuter rail debate I have read. Even if you view the specifics of the recently passed toll road plan as flawed, the concept of tolling is one around which I would have thought this community could coalesce. For the progressive community, tolling is a means of appropriately allocating the cost of our automobile-designed infrastructure. For conservatives, it is a means of funding transportation infrastructure without raising taxes per se.
   Accepting that we are destined to remain divided over toll roads, I am hopeful we will at least coalesce around Capital Metro's commuter rail plan. Now that Central Texas has done its part in funding its automobile infrastructure, I look forward to local and state support for the commuter rail initiative, including a relocation of the Union Pacific out of the middle of town.
   I also look forward to commuter rail (and even toll roads) serving as an impetus for a new form of "transit-oriented" development in Central Texas. The Mueller redevelopment and the proposal in Leander are powerful steps in that direction. If we design our living environments around transit infrastructure as well as roadways, and combine density with more appealing, pedestrian-friendly communities, then perhaps we have a chance to accommodate the more than one million people due to arrive here in the next few decades without sacrificing everything we hold dear. Between Envision Central Texas and our current elected officials that are making these connections between transportation and land use, I think we have great cause for optimism. I can only hope this community will fight as hard for something so positive and necessary as it did against toll roads.
John Langmore
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