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June 27, 2017

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Citizens to be Heard - SAFETY

April 27, 2017

The following was read during Citizens to be Heard at the City Council meeting on April 26, 2017. During this meeting several citizens stood up to speak about concerns with the toll road project. As of June 28th, this citizen has still not received a response from the city. 

 

CIBOLO PARKWAY/EXPRESSWAY PRESENTATION ON SAFETY

 

I want to thank you for letting us come and speak of our concerns.

The Cibolo Parkway and Cibolo Expressway is a concern for many of its citizens.

I am here to talk about the concerns of safety for the toll road and toll expressway.

In reviewing the postings on the City of Cibolo web page, I did find notations of the need for safety information in the studies of the created Blue Ribbon Committee and the City of Cibolo Council and staff.

  1. 7 postings regarding an overpass at SH 78 and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to get to the south side of Cibolo with emergency first responders.

  2. 4 postings mentioning who will enforce traffic and safety, and who will pay for it.

  3. 1 posting regarding if a major accident closes the highway in one direction, how traffic would be rerouted.

  4. 2 postings about the attenuation or reduction of noise.

  5. 1 posting indicated we are a guinea pig or the first to do this kind of a project.

  6. 1 posting wondering how close to Steel High School it would be.  The answer was they don’t know yet, but the City can control it.

  7. 2 postings on how it will tie in at each end, that it is EXPECTED to be engineered to be safe and efficient for the traffic.

  8. 3 postings regarding the anticipated impact of traffic will be automotive only.  The Grand Prairie mayor stated in an answer to Mayor Dunn’s letter of questions that “Since the opening of SH #161 there has undoubtedly been more traffic which has led to an increase in accidents.”

  9. 1 posting regarding the impact on the quality of life of residents. The Grand Prairie Mayor stated in another answer to a question from Mayor Dunn the quality of life had increased, and “Crime has gone down, however; it has not been a sole factor in the crime rate positively or negatively but has improved emergency service response times.”

Although the safety of the public south of SH 78 was considered uppermost with the overpass over to SH 78 and the Union pacific Railroad tracks, there are other safety issues that were either barely introduced or completely disregarded.

It really concerns me that we seem to be guinea pigs for this type of project.  How can they know that it will be only automobiles?  I propose that they can’t.  This road could lead to Tractor trailer rigs traveling 1103 and the Cibolo Parkway on a regular basis.

Another real concern is if the Parkway/Expressway projects go belly up, who will pay for the law enforcement on a still open for travel Cibolo Parkway.

  • NTSB investigators said: “ 49 percent of all interstate accidents in Illinois are at toll plazas and three times as many people die in them as in accidents on the road itself. NTSB also goes on to state the same cause is 30% in Pennsylvania and 38% in New Jersey

  • Introducing electronic toll collection lanes, though, can make the problem even worse.

  • Mohamed Abdel-Aty, associate professor at Central Florida University’s department of civil and environmental engineering, studied the Orlando-Orange County Expressway system in Florida.  Mr. Aty stated: Introducing E-Pass electronic toll collection lanes increased the accident rate at the busy Holland-East Mainline Plaza.

  • On a side note thirty States have toll facilities and 20 have none according to the Federal Highway Administration.

 

Additionally, physical health is a concern. Added traffic leads to more air pollution. An article on the American Lung Association web site regarding Healthy Air says the following:

  • Living near a busy road may be even more dangerous that being in other places in a community. 

    • In January 2010, the Health Effects Institute published a major review. The panel looked at over 700 studies from around the world, examining the health effects. They concluded that traffic pollution causes asthma attacks in children, and may cause a wide range of other effects including: the onset of childhood asthma, impaired lung function, premature death, death from cardiovascular diseases, and cardiovascular morbidity.  The area most affected, they concluded, was roughly .2 to .3 miles from the highway.  Children and teenagers are among the most vulnerable.  A Danish study found that long-term exposure to traffic air pollution may increase the risk of COPD

  • Adults living closer to the road may risk dementia.

    • January 4, 2017 an article by Sarah Knapton, science editor for the Telegraph (a National British London paper), states: Living near a busy road may raise risk of dementia.

    • A decade-long study of 6.6 million people, published in the Lancet a UK Medical Journal, found that one in 10 dementia deaths in people living within 3.1 tenths of a mile of a busy road was attributable to fumes and noise.  There was a linear decline in deaths the further people lived away from heavy traffic.

    • A new study by Canadian public health scientists is the first to find a link between living close to heavy traffic and the onset of dementia.

    • Last year British scientists discovered tiny magnetic particles produced by car engines and brakes in the brains of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

    • There is a gradient risk depending on the distance from the road the people live.

 

Although it was stated that noise pollution was a “must have” by the Blue Ribbon committee, there have been no further mention of this. A quote from James Clair a truck driver for over 11 years, states that “Air brakes are allowed in a residential area, no rules on that.”  Also, “Engine brakes are allowed unless there are signs put up designating 1103 as a no engine brake area.”  General traffic noise will also be increased as traffic increases as a result of the opening of Cibolo Parkway.

 

Many are also concerned that we may have Hazmat trucks rolling down FM 1103.  This is a heavily populated area, with many homes barely outside the setback required by the City of Cibolo.

  • It would take only one of these trucks to have an accident along the heavily populated portion of 1103 and possibly the future heavily populated Cibolo Parkway for the whole project to be a complete disaster.

In watching the video of the express lanes overpasses, the traffic that doesn’t use the express lane overpasses will have to merge into one lane, and we would be no better off and probably worse off in those areas than we are now with one lane each way.

Although it did seem the City Of Cibolo council and Mayor Dunn were concerned with the safety of those that live south of Hwy 78 by gaining an overpass of the Union Pacific Railroad and Hwy 78, the other safety concerns and added noise of traffic for the citizens that live north of Hwy 78 and along the current 1103 fell by the wayside.

 

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