Screw You, TxDot
There's no reasonable explanation for what the Texas Department of Transportation is doing to El Paso. Why would you intentionally cripple a city of nearly a million people by shutting down two of its only three thoroughfares at the same time? Is it some kind of elaborate experiment to see how much punishment a population can take before they start exhibiting symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome?
Here's the bad news: This Sunday, I-10 is going to be shut down in both directions for the entire day. One possible alternate route — Paisano Drive — is down to only one lane in both directions. And when I say "only one lane," I mean JUST THE LANE. No shoulder, no easement ... just one lane which my pickup fits into in a way reminiscent of the log ride at Six Flags. There's about a-foot-and-a-half leeway on either side and if you don't keep it right between the lines, you're going to leave paint on the concrete barriers. Honestly, if a car ever conks out on Paisano, I don't know how many hours people would be waiting until emergency crews could clear it out. From what I see, you could be there for days.
Another route is Mesa Street, which comes to a standstill even on days when the Interstate isn't completely shut down. All it takes is a stalled car on the side of 10 to turn Mesa into a parking lot. Also, against all conceivable logic and sense of humanity, there are multiple lane closures up and down Mesa.
That's the bad news.
Here's the even worse news: It's going to get even worse before long.
The TxDot engineer planning all this is a man named Bob Bielek and he says the situation won't get really bad until late 2016-early 2017. According to the El Paso Times, Mr. Bielek says the I-10 and Paisano projects have to happen at the same time so they both link up in the right way AND because TxDot has the funding now to make it happen.
Can't they save the funding for one of the projects until the other one is complete? What kind of bureaucratic madness dictates that you can't spread the money out to make life a little easier on the people it's going to affect?
Speaking of money, I wish TxDot or the City Council or someone would find out how much money all of this is going to cost in lost productivity. If you consider people spending more of their productive time in traffic, business losses because of the nightmare traffic, and then throw in the cost in fuel being burned while thousands of people are going nowhere, my guess is that it is going to be in the billions. Why don't we take that into consideration and maybe find a way to apply the funding in a more sensible way?
Oh, and remember how I said that the only possible alternate route, Mesa Street, already has numerous lane closures (for work that I never see being done?) The city has announced that they are going to start laying tracks for the Mesa to the Border Trolley project in January of 2016. Thank God people will be able to get from the border to UTEP on a stupid trolley while the rest of us are stuck in a bureaucratically imposed traffic hell.