SAN MARCOS, Texas — The drive from north of Dallas to just south of the state’s capital city went virtually without a hitch.
Until we got to Austin.
We spent four glorious days in Allen with our granddaughter Emma, her parents and her brothers. Then we headed south for some more Christmas vacation time. In the next day or so we’ll gather with our nieces, one of our niece’s husband, our two great-nieces and my wife’s brother.
Then we’ll head home.
I intend fully to avoid Austin on the way home. Coming through the city this afternoon was no picnic.
Don’t misunderstand: We had no mishaps. We didn’t come to a complete stop at any point on our journey through what’s known in Texas as “The People’s Republic of Austin”; hey, this last Lone Star bastion of liberal politics needs a term of endearment.
But it was around 2 p.m. as we entered the city. It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The traffic isn’t supposed to be this clogged; aren’t many millions of Americans supposed to be taking some time off — at home?
I’ve concluded that Austin needs another interstate highway, an east-west thoroughfare to take some of the stress off that demolition derby track aka Interstate 35.
I read somewhere not long ago that Austin (population that exceeds 800,000 residents) is the largest city in America with just a single interstate highway coarsing through it. I-35 runs north-and-south through the city. There ain’t one that runs perpendicular through Austin, which as most of us know is going through some serious growing pains. Everyone seems to want to live there.
Even though Austin is enduring this growth spurt and with traffic bound to get only worse as more people migrate there, the city is faced with this political reality: It is a Democratic bastion in a heavily Republican state; what’s more, Congress is controlled by Republicans, which would seem to make it problematic if the city hopes to acquire federal highway money to route an interstate highway spur through Austin.
Infrastructure improvements — you know, highways and other things like that — used to be above and beyond politics.
That was then, which of course bears little resemblance to the here and now.