In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Bush is expected to call for increased focus on biofuels, to mitigate U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Meanwhile, in Bush’s home state, Interstate I-10 through Houston is being expanded to 18 lanes.
“Texas has always been pretty far over on the side of exploiting natural resources and not worrying about the consequences,” Richard Murray, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said. Pervasive drive-thru lanes and residential parking garages conspire to keep automobiles an inextricable part of Houston’s culture. Image.
Indeed, much of the empirical data implicates Houston, not even Los Angeles, as the U.S.’s epicenter of automobile-facilitated sprawl:
According to these DOT data, 97 percent of the Houston workforce drives a car (or walks or rides a bike) to work every morning. Even if we set aside an unrealistically large number of pedestrian and bike commuters, say 20 percent, we are still left with about three-quarters of Houston taking to the roads every morning. No wonder there’s congestion!
According to Reuters, the expansion of I-10 was hotly contested for over a decade:
[Environmentalists] had sought to preserve a rail line that ran along I-10 for a commuter train that someday might bring workers to the city from distant suburbs. But after 15 years of study and discussion about the highway, state officials decided to go with a highway-only strategy.
“You can simply get to your destination quicker and better in a car,” Bob Lanier, a former Houston mayor, said. If you can get there faster in a car, you are not going to take a train.”