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Author Topic: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study  (Read 1277 times)

sprjus4

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2020, 11:18:30 PM »

Yes, but history in Texas say we build the 4-lane divided highway between the cities and towns but keep going through them on surface streets.  Texas might have finally figured out how backward this is, but it is not without resistance.
They've gotten in right in some areas, but agreed have lacked in many other places.

The US-59 / US-77 corridor between Corpus Christi and Houston comes to mind. Besides Refugio and Odem on the southern end (which are due to get bypasses in the near future apart of I-69 upgrades), the highway is 75 mph divided throughout with freeway / expressway bypasses of every town (except the aforementioned two) and no traffic signals throughout.

This IMO is an example of a true "expressway". Non-limited-access divided highway without traffic signals, interchanges at major crossroads, freeway segments where warranted, and bypasses around towns. Having continuity is another aspect for defined corridors (one corridor that may utilize different routes, like US-59 and US-77).

Texas has a lot of corridors that come close, but lack the bypass aspect and instead dump traffic through towns. If they complete bypasses, more "expressway" corridors with similar speeds (75 mph) and travel reliability of interstate highways would be in place across the state.

Upgrades to full interstate standards on certain corridors, such as I-69, I-14, and any conceptual I-27 extensions should focus efforts at completing an "expressway" quality roadway (non-limited-access, high speed limits, town bypasses, interchanges at major junctions, no signals, continuity, etc.) before any upgrades begin on rural frontage roads and rural interchanges.

Austin to Houston would be a good beginner candidate for a corridor built to full "expressway" standards, either along US-290 or SH-71. Both are mostly built out, though need town bypasses, full continuity, median throughout, and signals eliminated).
« Last Edit: May 17, 2020, 11:25:34 PM by sprjus4 »
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sprjus4

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2020, 11:27:07 PM »

Granted, the I-35 / I-135 / I-70 corridor would add distance. But look at it from the vantage point of about 1500-2500 trucks per day that go between DFW and the Colorado Front Range. Compared with not having to go through downtown Lamar (CO), compared with not having to see this: https://www.google.com/maps/@38.4788503,-102.7857556,3a,75y,3.84h,85.02t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sXuiQuPga-d9aAsZwbpSD1Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656, and compared with not having to go through stop-and-go through most of US 287 TX, the longer distance without the tolls south of Wichita looks very good.
Between Denver and Dallas-Fort Worth, a routing would follow US-87 to I-25, which is mostly 4 lanes divided, not US-287.

Like I said, if the distance was less (maybe only 30 - 40 additional miles), I could see it, but the division is too much (close to 100 miles) to make it viable.
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Bobby5280

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #27 on: May 18, 2020, 12:06:58 AM »

Only a complete idiot would take the I-35/I-135/I-70 combo to drive from Texas to Colorado. That's a bunch of extra hours of drive time, not to mention a whole lot more fuel and cost. That route is not a valid barometer to judge traffic movement from points in Texas and Oklahoma to Colorado.

I prefer driving on Interstate highways for long distance road trips as much as anyone. But I have never had the desire to up through Kansas for any of my drives from Lawton to Colorado Springs or Denver. Most of the time I've gone through Raton. I've tried US-287 up through Boise City and Lamar a couple times. Raton is the better route, at least for me in my pickup truck.

Quote from: brad2971
One of the things we must all realize is that, since the initial studies for Ports To Plains/Heartland/Theodore Roosevelt expressway corridors came out is that nationwide traffic counts have largely leveled off.

How has traffic "leveled off?" Since the 1980's the United States has added 100 million people. Now, given the ridiculous costs of health care, day care, housing in many places, etc our nation's total fertility rates have fallen below the "replacement level" of 2.2 children per female since the Great Recession in the 2000's. Even before that the rate was hovering near the 2.0 level. It's now 1.7 and dropping farther. Since the early 1970's all our net population growth has happened via immigration. Politically we're even trying to shut the door on that now too. If current trends keep up, then yeah, traffic levels are going to "level off" in a big way along with all sorts of other unpredictable demographic and socio-economic changes.

Going back to 40 years ago, it was also a hell of a lot easier and far less costly to build a new freeway back then. We're pricing ourselves out of so many things now. The added government red tape and law suit nonsense is one issue. The other is engineering and construction firms perversely price gouging the taxpayers.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2020, 12:12:57 AM by Bobby5280 »
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sprjus4

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #28 on: May 18, 2020, 12:13:33 AM »

Only a complete idiot would take the I-35/I-135/I-70 combo to drive from Texas to Colorado. That's a bunch of extra hours of drive time, not to mention a whole lot more fuel and cost. That route is not a valid barometer to judge traffic movement from points in Texas and Oklahoma to Colorado.

I prefer driving on Interstate highways for long distance road trips as much as anyone. But I have never had the desire to up through Kansas for any of my drives from Lawton to Colorado Springs or Denver. Most of the time I've gone through Raton. I've tried US-287 up through Boise City and Lamar a couple times. Raton is the better route, at least for me in my pickup truck.
Not from Dallas or Lawton, but from Oklahoma City, the fastest routing actually is the I-35 / I-135 / I-70 combo.
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Roadgeekteen

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #29 on: May 18, 2020, 12:58:03 AM »

Only a complete idiot would take the I-35/I-135/I-70 combo to drive from Texas to Colorado. That's a bunch of extra hours of drive time, not to mention a whole lot more fuel and cost. That route is not a valid barometer to judge traffic movement from points in Texas and Oklahoma to Colorado.

I prefer driving on Interstate highways for long distance road trips as much as anyone. But I have never had the desire to up through Kansas for any of my drives from Lawton to Colorado Springs or Denver. Most of the time I've gone through Raton. I've tried US-287 up through Boise City and Lamar a couple times. Raton is the better route, at least for me in my pickup truck.

Quote from: brad2971
One of the things we must all realize is that, since the initial studies for Ports To Plains/Heartland/Theodore Roosevelt expressway corridors came out is that nationwide traffic counts have largely leveled off.

How has traffic "leveled off?" Since the 1980's the United States has added 100 million people. Now, given the ridiculous costs of health care, day care, housing in many places, etc our nation's total fertility rates have fallen below the "replacement level" of 2.2 children per female since the Great Recession in the 2000's. Even before that the rate was hovering near the 2.0 level. It's now 1.7 and dropping farther. Since the early 1970's all our net population growth has happened via immigration. Politically we're even trying to shut the door on that now too. If current trends keep up, then yeah, traffic levels are going to "level off" in a big way along with all sorts of other unpredictable demographic and socio-economic changes.

Going back to 40 years ago, it was also a hell of a lot easier and far less costly to build a new freeway back then. We're pricing ourselves out of so many things now. The added government red tape and law suit nonsense is one issue. The other is engineering and construction firms perversely price gouging the taxpayers.
For Dallas to Denver the all interstate route is only 45 minutes longer, I could understand using it if a truck driver was scared of two lane roads or something.
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sparker

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #30 on: May 18, 2020, 01:27:45 AM »

   And the biggest obstacle to a Raton northern extension is the state of NM, which may well procrastinate the project to death.  They've already spent corridor money twinning much of US 64/87; following that up with another round of upgrades might be a fiscal bridge too far -- even if their contribution covers only 20% of the overall costs. 

Agreed.   Would suspect, as well, that the US 64/87 segment in New Mexico, (Clayton-Raton) while four lanes, was built to low standards.   Skinny shoulders, flush medians, inadequate horizontal and vertical curve abatement.  As was pretty much everything else during the Gary Johnson/Pete Rahn regime.  Jan '95 to Jan '03.   Although low standards reach even farther back - the mid to late eighties.  For reasons of topology alone, would simply not route "port to plains" into New Mexico.  The low design standards simply make it a nail in the coffin.   

Just did a GSV of 64/87 between Clayton and Raton; was surprised by a couple of things.  The outer shoulders looked like 10-footers, with the inner shoulders being somewhat narrower; I'd guess 5-6 feet on average.  Outer shoulders contained rumble strips as well, but they looked like they were constructed with chip seal rather than standard asphalt (I suppose that helps since it creates a totally different feel & sound to the ride, so one knows one is off the main carriageway).  Of course, the towns along the way got the 4-lane/undivided or 5-lane treatment.  There are surprisingly few private access points (guess the ranch tracts are pretty large around there) -- but a lot of makeshift dirt tracks running directly into the highway.  Relatively narrow median; would require a K-rail, thrie-beam, or at minimum a cable barrier.  But it indicates that most of that stretch could be upgraded to Interstate standards (repaving would be a must; the view was from 2014, and already there were ruts in the right lanes!), with bypasses of the towns and settlements along the way.  As I stated previously, if the selected plans called for the cheapest possible way to effect the corridor's connection to the Front Range -- and it was assured that NM would be cooperative -- the 115-mile difference between the Raton and Limon options, coupled with about 80 miles of upgradeable facility -- might constitute a deciding factor. 

Re Trincheras Pass as an alternative -- the fact that the easiest-to-upgrade sections (lots of new concrete pavement and bridges) is from Des Moines west to Raton, it's all but certain that if the Raton route is chosen, it'll stay on US 87 northwest of Dalhart all the way to I-25.   Yes, the RR slinks around the hills like a snake on mescaline, but that was to maintain a 1.1% maximum grade in either direction, a goal of the original Colorado & Southern Railroad when it built the line to Texas back in the first decade of the 1900's.  The line was rebuilt in the late '70's to expedite Powder River, WY coal traffic to Texas power plants (most have switched to natural gas these days), which got rid of some of more egregious curvature.  But north of the NM/CO state line, a natural pathway for a road that can, of course, exceed that gradient requirement, would head north to US 160 and then west to I-25 north of Trinidad.  But with the 64/87 improvements, it's actually a moot point.
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sprjus4

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #31 on: May 18, 2020, 01:47:00 AM »

Only a complete idiot would take the I-35/I-135/I-70 combo to drive from Texas to Colorado. That's a bunch of extra hours of drive time, not to mention a whole lot more fuel and cost. That route is not a valid barometer to judge traffic movement from points in Texas and Oklahoma to Colorado.

I prefer driving on Interstate highways for long distance road trips as much as anyone. But I have never had the desire to up through Kansas for any of my drives from Lawton to Colorado Springs or Denver. Most of the time I've gone through Raton. I've tried US-287 up through Boise City and Lamar a couple times. Raton is the better route, at least for me in my pickup truck.

Quote from: brad2971
One of the things we must all realize is that, since the initial studies for Ports To Plains/Heartland/Theodore Roosevelt expressway corridors came out is that nationwide traffic counts have largely leveled off.

How has traffic "leveled off?" Since the 1980's the United States has added 100 million people. Now, given the ridiculous costs of health care, day care, housing in many places, etc our nation's total fertility rates have fallen below the "replacement level" of 2.2 children per female since the Great Recession in the 2000's. Even before that the rate was hovering near the 2.0 level. It's now 1.7 and dropping farther. Since the early 1970's all our net population growth has happened via immigration. Politically we're even trying to shut the door on that now too. If current trends keep up, then yeah, traffic levels are going to "level off" in a big way along with all sorts of other unpredictable demographic and socio-economic changes.

Going back to 40 years ago, it was also a hell of a lot easier and far less costly to build a new freeway back then. We're pricing ourselves out of so many things now. The added government red tape and law suit nonsense is one issue. The other is engineering and construction firms perversely price gouging the taxpayers.
For Dallas to Denver the all interstate route is only 45 minutes longer, I could understand using it if a truck driver was scared of two lane roads or something.
The only 2 lane stretch remaining between Fort Worth and I-25 via US-287 and US-87 is an 18 mile segment between Dumas and Hartley, and it's a super-2 75 mph road with an alternating passing lane for the most of it. The remainder of the route is all 4 lane divided highway, largely posted at 75 mph in Texas and posted at 70 mph in New Mexico.
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brad2971

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #32 on: May 18, 2020, 02:00:20 AM »

Only a complete idiot would take the I-35/I-135/I-70 combo to drive from Texas to Colorado. That's a bunch of extra hours of drive time, not to mention a whole lot more fuel and cost. That route is not a valid barometer to judge traffic movement from points in Texas and Oklahoma to Colorado.

I prefer driving on Interstate highways for long distance road trips as much as anyone. But I have never had the desire to up through Kansas for any of my drives from Lawton to Colorado Springs or Denver. Most of the time I've gone through Raton. I've tried US-287 up through Boise City and Lamar a couple times. Raton is the better route, at least for me in my pickup truck.

Quote from: brad2971
One of the things we must all realize is that, since the initial studies for Ports To Plains/Heartland/Theodore Roosevelt expressway corridors came out is that nationwide traffic counts have largely leveled off.

How has traffic "leveled off?" Since the 1980's the United States has added 100 million people. Now, given the ridiculous costs of health care, day care, housing in many places, etc our nation's total fertility rates have fallen below the "replacement level" of 2.2 children per female since the Great Recession in the 2000's. Even before that the rate was hovering near the 2.0 level. It's now 1.7 and dropping farther. Since the early 1970's all our net population growth has happened via immigration. Politically we're even trying to shut the door on that now too. If current trends keep up, then yeah, traffic levels are going to "level off" in a big way along with all sorts of other unpredictable demographic and socio-economic changes.

Going back to 40 years ago, it was also a hell of a lot easier and far less costly to build a new freeway back then. We're pricing ourselves out of so many things now. The added government red tape and law suit nonsense is one issue. The other is engineering and construction firms perversely price gouging the taxpayers.

Per St Louis Federal Reserve bank, this is the 12-month moving total VMT: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/M12MTVUSM227NFWA

This site shows the per capita VMT: https://www.enotrans.org/article/trends-in-per-capita-vmt/ Note that the peak per capita VMT is in 2004.
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Rothman

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #33 on: May 18, 2020, 08:15:46 PM »

Um...VMT from the Fed Reserve?  That...can't be right. :D
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Bobby5280

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #34 on: May 18, 2020, 10:39:30 PM »

Quote
Not from Dallas or Lawton, but from Oklahoma City, the fastest routing actually is the I-35 / I-135 / I-70 combo.

The combo of I-40 to Amarillo and then going North to I-25 via Raton is still shorter. It's not the greatest route for truckers though (due to Raton Pass).

Quote from: sparker
Just did a GSV of 64/87 between Clayton and Raton; was surprised by a couple of things.  The outer shoulders looked like 10-footers, with the inner shoulders being somewhat narrower; I'd guess 5-6 feet on average.

The shoulders sure don't look that wide to me. Maybe a couple spots (like the stretch between Texline and Clayton) might have 10' wide outer shoulders. But many other areas of the road look like the outer shoulders couldn't be more than about 6' wide, if even that. The best quality segments of the route are the short runs of concrete slab near Sierra Grande. The outer shoulders on those concrete segments look narrow, like maybe around 6' wide. The inner shoulders can't be more than 3' or 4' wide.

Some of the asphalt based segments of US-64/87 between Texline and Raton have had one or more overlays done. In all fairness, any state DOT is going to have issues maintaining a highway on this kind of unstable, porous soil. It's a lot of crumbly, gravel-like crap. The soil in Colorado to the East of the Front Range has similar problems. The stuff can erode pretty easily. It's something I try to keep in mind when I gripe about things like US-24 not being a 4-lane route 100% of the way between Colorado Springs and Limon.

Quote from: sparker
Re Trincheras Pass as an alternative -- the fact that the easiest-to-upgrade sections (lots of new concrete pavement and bridges) is from Des Moines west to Raton, it's all but certain that if the Raton route is chosen, it'll stay on US 87 northwest of Dalhart all the way to I-25.

Another thing to consider is Raton is already a fairly important junction for long road trips. I never get fuel there (fuel prices are ridiculous; I top off in Dumas and then fill up in Colorado Springs). But I'll sometimes stop in Raton to get something to snack on or drink, if I didn't stop earlier at the Love's store in Clayton. Aside from my own habits, a brand new highway corridor through remote areas can take a long time to attract new businesses along the exits. A new freeway route through Trincheras Pass would have to bypass both Raton and Trinidad to provide good time/mileage savings versus going through Raton and over Raton Pass. I think there would be some considerable political fallout from such a route bypassing both Raton and Trinidad.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 02:28:42 PM by Bobby5280 »
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sparker

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #35 on: May 19, 2020, 02:34:30 AM »

^^^^^^^^^^^
The last time I was actually on 64/87 in the area was well prior to the 4-laning, so I don't have anything to go on but what I saw in GSV and a close-up overhead view as well.  I'll concede that the inside shoulders vary quite a bit, but assuming 12' wide lanes, they don't seem to be any less than 4' at any point except through the towns, of course.  Including the rumble strips, the outer shoulders, particularly from Clayton west to Grenville, seem to be only slightly narrower than the lane itself.  If anyone can obtain NMDOT specifications on the various segments from Clayton to Raton that would certainly be helpful.  But if that type of rutting is evident only 8-10 years after the road was twinned, then it's likely that while the ROW could be utilized in place, the facility would have to be rebuilt quite a bit more robustly -- possibly concrete, like sporadically seen west of Des Moines -- to at least partially ameliorate the soil and drainage issues.  BTW, I've noticed this type of pavement wear on US 60 west of Clovis as well, and to a lesser degree on I-40 between Santa Rosa and Tucumcari -- so it's likely Bobby's spot on about the underpinning problems of roads on the Front Range alluvial.  I wonder -- by staying 70-100 miles east, as with a US 287/Limon option, the worst of that problem could possibly be avoided -- and if that particular issue is on the radar of those charged with making routing decisions regarding the P-to-P (i.e.-- the "cheapest" option may turn out not to be all that cheap in the long haul!).   
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Bobby5280

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #36 on: May 20, 2020, 02:37:10 PM »

The soil farther East along the US-287 corridor going into SE CO might be a little bit more stable, but even it has its own issues. Red clay poses its own challenges to road building. Nevertheless, Oklahoma has 4-laned a decent number of rural highways in the last 30 years.
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sparker

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Re: TX: Ports to Plains corridor study
« Reply #37 on: May 23, 2020, 02:16:51 AM »

The soil farther East along the US-287 corridor going into SE CO might be a little bit more stable, but even it has its own issues. Red clay poses its own challenges to road building. Nevertheless, Oklahoma has 4-laned a decent number of rural highways in the last 30 years.

Most of I-80 in the Sierras between Auburn and Yuba Gap travels through red clay; the Division of Highways had problems with the banks on the side of cuts crumbling and having to be re-graded numerous times during the 1959-60 period that section was constructed.  Made lousy fill as well; they had to bring in rock from elsewhere for that purpose.   
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