Sunday, March 22, 2009

Greetings, Weary Fellow Travelers?

I'm back from my weekend in Austin, and I have to say that, out of all the innumerable times I've driven I-35 between here and Central Texas or vice versa, this may be one of the worst traffic jams I've ever experienced on that road.

It wasn't really too bad from Austin to Georgetown, where we had lunch, but after that, the traffic was pretty heavy. Anytime there was something resembling a construction zone (never mind that no actual construction was taking place on a Sunday), or sometimes for no reason at all, the traffic would slow to a crawl. But it didn't pick up much after that until just south of Eddy, and, while it remained clear through Waco up to the point north of town where the freeway narrows to four lanes, everything after that all the way up to the 35E/35W split north of Hillsboro was a complete nightmare--bumper to bumper, and nobody getting anywhere fast.

So what caused all this? There was one accident just past the Temple/Belton border (taking away the inside lane just a short distance from where the outside lane went away by design), and there was one case where the same law that I lamented last week came into play, but otherwise, it was all about volume--the freeway had more people on it than it was designed to hold.

Was it the end of so many people's spring break that was causing this? Did SXSW having ended the night before have any bearing? Probably a little bit of both. But this just reinforced my notion that 35 should be six lanes all the way from the DFW area to San Antonio; it's that busy, even if Gov. Perry's "Trans-Texas Corridor" is not likely to become a reality now. And while some of the recent projects have been designed to add capacity, there are others (most notably the stretch between Hillsboro and Abbott that seemed to take about 15 years to complete) that have simply been rebuilt with the same number of lanes.

So was anyone else out there on that same freeway yesterday? You're welcome to relate your tale--or any other spring break travel woes--in the comments below.

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