Access for emergency
services will be a severe challenge.
The Trans-Texas Corridor will take the term "limited access" to
a new height.
Given the severely limited access
(by its very design) it will be difficult, if not impossible, for
emergency services to respond to emergencies on the TTC.
Access points may be 10 miles
or further apart the entire length of the corridor. Rail components
of the corridor will make at-grade crossings impossible from at least
Without feeder roads and
frequent crossovers there will be
tremendous challenges just getting emergency services to the scene of
accidents, fires, spills, pipeline ruptures, train derailments and any
two-lane roadways often result in one or both lanes being obstructed.
The traditional divided highway schematic provides unobstructed opposite
direction (opposing lane) access for emergency responders when the
traveled lanes are blocked by an accident. The barriers typically
encountered entail a concrete, metal or cable barrier and/or a modestly
wide grass median. However, initial development plans for TTC-35 provide
for two lanes in each direction that are very widely separated. These
initial lanes will eventually become the outside truck lanes between
which future six passenger vehicle lanes and travel service centers will
be constructed. The result is an extremely wide median area that may or
may not be readily traversed by emergency vehicles to approach within
reasonable distance to an accident or other emergency scene.
Location will mean slow response time and
An additional problem is created simply by placing of
the Trans-Texas Corridor
the urban centers where a high level of emergency services are readily
available. What will the response capability be along open stretches
of unpopulated rural Texas? Unlike the present Interstate Highway
system that's dotted with cities and traveler services, the TTC will not have the same
access to local services. A slow
will be the rule, not the exception.
Rural location may mean
It seems logical that a
train derailment or tractor-trailer truck accident involving hazardous
materials that occurs on an isolated stretch of corridor in rural
Texas would create a risk to fewer lives. However, lets ask a few
questions and consider a few facts. What is the at-risk population
density along the existing Interstate Highways? What escape routes are
readily available to that population (streets & roads away from the
hazard). Contrast that with stacking hundreds, if not thousands, of
vehicles in corridor traffic lanes where there are no exit, no feeder
roads, and no alternative routes to use for escape. Consider that new
victims will be driving into the hazard zone at 80 MPH. Consider that
high-speed rail will mean high-fences and barriers that will contain
the at-risk motorists within a 180-degree arc. It extremely likely
that the entire corridor will have barriers to prevent unauthorized
entry thereby preventing exit. Consider that highways that cross the
corridor will be elevated for the quarter-mile grade separation and inaccessible
to motorists on the corridor .
What is the at-risk
population density on the corridor itself? We estimate 6 per 100-feet
of passenger car lane and 2 per 100-feet of truck lane. That means a
fully developed corridor (10 lanes) could itself put an estimated
population of 1,161 within one-half mile of the hazard. Just four
lanes could put an estimated population of 633 within one-half mile of
Vehicles provide poor
shelter from most hazards. Unlike buildings and structures, vehicles
provide no protection from radiant heat. Passing a skunk on the
highway demonstrates how easily gases enter a vehicle.
Those who abandon their
vehicle will be challenged to find shelter. Most travelers will be
unfamiliar with their surroundings and may attempt to escape using
routes that present new hazards or fail to lead to escape.
Rescuers will face the same
challenges. Access will be a nightmare.
Multiple hazards compound the risk.
Transportation, utilities and communications are of vital
importance. In the design of any system it is always ill advised to
concentrate vulnerabilities. The Trans-Texas Corridor does just that.
We are concerned about the wisdom of building a
multimodal transportation corridor that will concentrate multiple
transportation accident hazards (pipeline, rail, trucking, etc.)
within a narrow corridor with extremely limited access.
A train derailment anywhere along the Trans-Texas Corridor will
most likely immediately and physically impact adjacent rails and potentially
impact highway lanes and/or utilities.
Present design of the corridor puts any pipeline
leak or explosion within 200-feet of commuter/freight rail tracks, within
375-feet of high-speed passenger rail tracks and within 500-feet of highway
lanes anywhere along the Trans-Texas Corridor .
Present design of the corridor puts any
hazardous material leak from a rail car or tank car within 150-feet of
high-speed passenger rail tracks and 250-feet of highway lanes anywhere
along the Trans-Texas Corridor .
We are concerned about the certainty of
disruptions that will result from simple accidents within a corridor that has no
alternate route capacity as a function of its limited access points and
geographic alignment that's distant from the existing highway infrastructure.
We are concerned about limited emergency
responder access. All emergency services (police, fire, hazmat, EMS)
will be required to be located within the corridor or in close proximity to
the access points in order to achieve reasonable response times.
Given the geographical location of the Trans-Texas Corridor away
from major metropolitan areas, the corridor is therefore distant from
existing well equipped and staffed emergency responders, even at most access
We are concerned about the numerous highway
crossings that will all be required to be grade separated (elevated) for a
distance in excess of 1,200 feet.
Every overpass will be
4/10-mile or more in length with limited shoulders to allow traffic to
detour around accidents, disabled vehicles, or other obstructions.
In north Texas freezing
temperatures would make these very long overpasses extremely susceptible to