Constructive Congestion: El Paso's growing roadways
POSTED: Monday, February 17, 2014 - 11:01pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 9:05am
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — While traffic isn't backed up 24/7 -- in the years to come, drivers may have to brace themselves for more delays. Thousands of drivers hit our streets in their vehicles every day. Ask any one of them and most drivers don't like road construction and near stand-still traffic. Though more is underway in El Paso, one group says there is a silver lining to all that constructive construction.
Fernie Fabela has taken a creative approach to his traffic woes."Based on the construction that's going on, I tend to want to avoid the headaches and the traffic so I take the easy road." The easy road... Is not so simple... Fabela takes two different routes -- eye ten in the mornings and in the evenings -- the border highway. "There's less traffic on the Border Highway in the evenings."
The long time el pasoan says traffic hasn't always been this jammed. "The last past ten years you can tell just by heading to the East Side you almost have bumper-to-bumper traffic almost every day that's normal now."
The congestion is a daily reminder of just how much the Sun City has grown. And the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority or the CRRMA says city leaders are trying to combat the issue before it becomes an even larger problem. "We've had a tremendous amount of infrastructure improvements and put into place over these last few years,” Raymond Telles, the Executive Director of the CRRMA says.
The RMA explains -- expect to see a lot more orange barrels and signs on streets...as three projects are set to relieve the congestion. First -- loop 375 -- from the East to West side of I-10. "So we're trying to peel people off of I-10 to bring them down to Loop 375. Whether it's on the general purpose or non-toll lanes.” Telles explains. Secondly, the corridor which will run from the Zaragoza Port of Entry to Pellicano. "Then the last and third portion which actually TXDOT is developing right now.... Is the Border Highway West Project, that's a huge one at $800 million project." The third will be the completion of the Loop from US-54 to Doniphan in the Upper Valley.
The RMA adds these projects are definitely not the 'end of the road' for their plans. "The state, city and county and all the individuals that are responsible for transportation development. You're seeing them work together in a way that they've never worked together before."
But paving the road to these projects wasn't always so smooth. Years ago, Raymond Telles tells us, city leaders could not secure $60-million in federal funding that would have been set aside for transportation projects. "We couldn't get them moving so we went it back to Austin and it got distributed to another community,” Telles says, "We lost real transportation dollars. You don't see that anymore. Now, we're taking dollars."
Those dollars equal road projects for a county that has grown by 17-percent from 2000 to 2010. And experts anticipate say, that number is expected to boom. "In order to grow, people have to realize that you know, there's gotta [sic] be a little bit of pain in the process,” Fabela explains.
While it may be frustrating. motorists like Fabela believe the flashing arrows and orange barrels on sun city roads -- are also signs of progress. "I believe when all this constructions, you know, completed I think that's going to probably make all this traffic just flow a lot better,” Fabela adds.
Road construction is not the only thing the community is talking about to relieve congestion. As we've reported the city and UTEP have already invested $400,000 for a bike share program that will run from Downtown El Paso to UTEP, as well as the city's bus rapid transit system, scheduled to take to the streets at summer’s end 2014.