Each year for the last eight years, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund and the Frontier Group collaborate on a publication called Highway Boondoggles.
The Fall 2023 issue lists seven wasteful highway projects in the United States, and El Paso is on the list.
The U.S. PIRG Education Fund is a progressive 501(c)(3) that researches “the problems of abundance” and claims that economic prosperity and free markets cause environmental and social crises.
The Frontier Group is a left-leaning California think tank that advocates for “a healthier, more sustainable America.”
In their current Highway Boondoggles report, the two groups state that “major expansion of the I-10 will bring demolitions and displacement to downtown El Paso” and cost up to $800,000,000.
According to them, TxDOT’s projection that peak afternoon traffic will rise to 300,000 by 2042 “is likely to be a major overestimate.”
They affirm opponents’ claims that adding more lanes will only “encourage more cars to use the highway” and “bring more air pollution, including to neighborhoods that already suffer from disproportionately high rates of asthma.”
Finally, they cite the $900,000 from the federal RAISE program to study the feasibility of building a deck plaza over the expanded freeway, the cost of which is outside the freeway expansion budget.
We don’t give much credence to a tendentious report that contributes no new research but only footnotes the opinions of others.
We agree, however, that widening the freeway through our Downtown is not necessarily a good idea, since lanes may be added without new excavations; and we are convinced that the proposed deck plaza would be a boondoggle for the record books (unless some genius comes up with hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for it without burdening local taxpayers).
Hat tip to Rich Wright of El Chuqueño for alerting us to this report.
PHOTO CREDIT: Interstate 10 in Downtown El Paso, June 4, 1968, El Paso Times.