Automobiles Data visualization Laws and policies Safety
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If you’re in Texas, odds are you’re paying more for car insurance than the average U.S. driver, says a survey by Insure.com.
I ran the survey’s data through Google Fusion Tables to see a bigger picture, and it turns out costs are as varied as the nation’s landscape itself. In particular, extreme highs touch all three coasts as well as the Canadian and Mexican borders.
Hover over states to see average costs. The darker the shade, the higher the cost.
Reasons for the undulating costs are, literally, all over the map, from claim-happy and disaster-prone Louisiana and bumper-to-bumper traffic in Georgia, to slow-poke drivers in Iowa and strict teen-driving laws in Maine, according to Insure.com.
The survey looked at 2013 cars and settled on a typical guy with a clean record and good credit. Texas rolled in at $1,545, ranking 19th overall.
Texas joined 19 other states and D.C. to rank higher than the $1,510 national average. Louisiana tops the list with $2,699. Maine sits at the bottom with $934.
Here are the top 10. Again, use hover to see dollars. The full table’s here.
Construction and closures Roads: Ballenger I-10 Texas Department of Transportation Wurzbach Parkway
After the bankruptcy of Ballenger Construction late last year, several TxDOT and COSA projects were lain dormant. The good news is that their bonding company is nearing the end of the process to hire new contractors to get those projects finished. Work should be starting next month again on the I-10 project (Ramsgate to Loop 1604) and the “bookends” of the Wurzbach Parkway project. I’m not as familiar with the COSA projects, but I hear the Hunt Lane project should also have a new contractor by this time next month.
Wow. Look at this gorgeous rolling ribbon of road and bluebonnets.
This Texas Hill Country highway made msn.com’s top 10 scenic drives in the U.S.
“If you want to see fields and fields of bright blue flowers resting atop a bed of emerald green grass, look no further than the annual Texas Hill Bluebonnet Tour,” it says.
But not all is so flowery.
“Wild about wildflowers? Too bad,” says an Express-News story posted yesterday, which lament’s this year’s spotty blooms.
Unlike last year’s lush bounty, fed by more than 10 inches of rainfall, this year’s blooms will be small and scattered due to just a third as much rain since Jan 1, according to the report. Meanwhile, look for the color to peak in early April.
San Antonio commuters spend an average of 23 and a half minutes getting to work, the latest federal data show.
Nothing shattering. In fact, it’s about two minutes less than the national average.
But what surprises me are some of the zip codes with the longest commutes.
Before seeing the U.S. Census data mapped out recently by a team at WNYC in New York, I figured commuters with the longest slogs tended to live in areas swaddling Loop 1604 on the North Side and exurbs like Boerne and New Braunfels.
In the map above, the beleaguered U.S. 281 corridor shows up as expected. But South Loop 1604 looks worse than its northern leg. And look at the bruised ring of satellites to the west and south.
A concentration of jobs on the North Side, along Loop 1604 and interstates 35 and 10, is likely sucking in many of these commuters from counties on all sides. The pull is stronger and wider than than I had realized.
You can hover over zip codes to see average commute times. You can also slide the map to see other cities, and zoom out to see other states. Here’s a full-page version.
Note that these stats include transit, walking and bicycling. But in a car town like San Antonio, despite volatile gas prices the past five years, nine out of 10 people still drive or carpool to work. Here’s a breakdown.
Fifteen years ago today, I put my esoteric interest out for the world to see. On March 1, 1998, the “Texas HighwayMan Pages” were born. Just like today, I covered everything I knew about Texas roads and the San Antonio freeway system. I still have that original site archived and wow, how things have changed, both in terms of the subject matter as well as in the quality of web publishing (and my skills in doing so.) That first site looks so amateurish today: cheesy, grainy, and oftentimes animated (for no good reason other than I could) graphics, brightly colored and/or busy backgrounds, low-res photos, and a generally clunky layout. But back then, that was cutting edge stuff. That first site was hosted on express-news.net, back when the Express-News actually provided consumer Internet access. About a month later, I added the Getting Around Germany section of my site, so I’ll be celebrating that anniversary im nächsten Monat.
Folks ask me why I put the site together and keep it up. Well, the answer is that it’s the classic labor of love. Although it seems like an esoteric topic, just about anyone who drives is interested in knowing what’s going on with the roads. Being interested in transportation all my life, I had a lot of the answers to folks’ questions in my head or at least in a pile of old newspapers and other assorted planning documents in my closet, so I thought why not share it with the world? And that’s what I’ve been doing for 15 years and plan to do for at least the next 15.
Yep, I’m still here too.
Over the past year, I’ve been slammed transitioning into a new job. These days, I oversee websites for a TV station, where I’m having a blast.
But I miss my little playground here, where I get to muse and write and try out some webby type stuff. I’d love to dredge up time and develop some data-driven apps and presentations. Urban growth and travel are perfect topics. I’ve also taken several trips – to DC, Utah, New Mexico and the Texas Coast. Each have untold stories.
It’s all about time. You know, I just got on Facebook recently and found out I have another niece and another nephew on the way. Yikes!
This month I’m wrapping up a couple of projects at work. This will be a good time to see if I can start spending time here in the sandbox again.
Let’s see what happens.
So it’s been over a year now since my last post here. It’s not for a lack of things to write about. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time I once had to devote to keeping this blog up. But I’m not giving up completely. I hope to be able to make some time here-and-there to start posting again. So stay tuned (if you’re still out there.)
Laws and policies Roads Safety: Speed limits Texas Department of Transportation
The Texas Transportation Commission approved increasing the speed limit to 75 mph on about 1,500 miles of mostly-rural Interstate highways in the state. Around the San Antonio area, the following stretches will see 75 mph signs soon:
- I-10 West from Loop 1604 to past Kerrville (where it’s already 80 mph)
- I-10 East from just outside Loop 410 to Waller County west of Houston
- I-35 South from Palo Alto Rd. to the existing 75 mph section south of Devine
- I-37 from just inside Loop 410 to Corpus Christi
I-35 between San Antonio and Austin was not approved for the higher speed limit.
The Legislature approved the higher speed limits last year.
- TxDOT’s 75 mph page – http://www.txdot.gov/safety/speed_limit/75mph.htm
Roads Safety: Texas Department of Transportation US 281 wrong-way drivers
In San Antonio and across Texas, there has been a rash of wrong-way drivers (WWD) over the past few years. In San Antonio last year, there was a WWD about every other day. Fortunately, 80% of those drivers caused no accidents. But sadly, seven people were killed by WWDs last year. Of no surprise was that the majority of WWDs were intoxicated.
To combat the problem, several agencies formed the San Antonio Wrong Way Driver Task Force in March 2011. Those agencies include TxDOT, SAPD, City of San Antonio Public Works Department, Bexar County Sherrif’s Office, and Texas Transportation Institute, and the Federal Highway Administration. The task force worked to determine the extent and characteristics of the local problem, evaluate previous research and countermeasures, and formulate a plan to test and implement countermeasures locally.
Construction and closures Roads: Loop 1604 SH 151 superstreet
UPDATE (11/1/11) - The changeover has been postponed until Wednesday.
Just back from vacay and have some local news to report. The final element of the package of improvements along Loop 1604 West that included two superstreet intersections will come online tomorrow. Namely, the left turn from southbound 1604 to SH 151 will be eliminated. Motorists wanting to go to SH 151 will now exit at a new exit ramp just south of Culebra, follow the access road, then cross 1604 at a perpendicular signalized intersection. The existing entrance ramp from Culebra will be closed and replaced by an improved entrance ramp at the SH 151 intersection. (For a schematic of these changes, see the link under “Additional information” below.)
Like the superstreet intersections, this change will most likely seem completely unintuitive for many folks. After all, southbound Loop 1604 traffic will now have to stop to allow traffic to enter SH 151 whereas before they didn’t ever have to stop. But this new arrangement will actually be safer overall and will help reduce congestion in the area. more »