Posts Tagged Austin

Toll Roads

I guess it’s already been about two years since the new toll roads starting opening around Austin. I’m not against toll roads in general, though I do think there are issues of misappropriation of public resources for private gain. If the tolls were simply to repay bonds used for construction, that would be one thing, but that’s not the way these toll roads are operated. I’m not sure exactly what the arrangements are, and I know they differ for some specific toll roads in the area, but at least one of them is apparently operated for profit by a private company. I suppose even that would be acceptable as long as the company paid a suitable lease (or property taxes, though I doubt they bought the land).

But that’s not the point of this post. Rather, it is the odd sense of pleasure I get when I use a toll road. Now, I don’t use them regularly as I quickly determined that they simply didn’t save me enough time to matter — at least not on my commute to and from work. But there are a couple of toll-connected fly-overs that avoid quite a few stoplights. Naturally, these short stretches of toll road are usually the most expensive. Still, when I’m in a hurry — which is fairly often — I just go for it. And, as I said, I actually get a small amount of pleasure when I do so. Of course, the TxTag hides the cost pretty effectively, which is probably a factor.

Am I alone in these feelings? I expect that if I took the toll road on a daily basis, I wouldn’t feel this way. Do you take toll roads occasionally, and if so, how do you feel when you do?

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Austin Mardi Gras – No Throwing Beads?!

I went down to 6th Street with a group of friends last night with a bunch of beads we brought back last weekend from New Orleans. We expected to throw them to the many revelers on the street from the roof-top bar at Maggie Mae’s. However, the police have apparently disallowed any such bead throwing and have convinced the establishments to participate in the enforcement. They were many signs indicating that throwing anything at all would result in ejection from the bar and possible arrest. I don’t think we’ll be going to 6th Street for future Fat Tuesdays.

Of course, I’m not sure it’s really a great loss — the Mardi Gras atmosphere on 6th Street is so different from Bourbon Street. On Bourbon Street, people are having fun. While crowds do gather a little around a girl that “shows”, it’s generally in a “having a good time” spirit. On 6th Street there is a very different energy. It is far more predatory, akin to a swarm of flies gathering around some morsel of food and then dissipating briefly until the next bit of food was found. Watching from the roof it felt a bit like a social experiment — kind of humorous, but mostly sad.

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