infrastructure

How Highways Really Work

Even though the Texas Department of Transportation heard from a number of different people, and there have protests against highway expansion, nobody outside the state of Texas had really been paying attention during the current era. Consequently, perception on how Texans view the highway expansion has been based around transportation. For example, people are concerned about congestion, gas fumes, and people who live outside the city who have to commute. All of these issues relate to the highway being viewed as valid transportation.

One of the reasons why I developed this timeline was because I wanted to explore the actual purpose of highway development. Framing the issue as a transportation issue obscures how much manipulation and control surround the growth of the highway system. Yes, highways are definitely viewed as high-speed transportation that was used for “White flight,” but that was not the point of highways. As repeatedly demonstrated through history, the government liked to exercise control over Non-White citizens and their communities. After all, the message of “White flight” was this: We can move away from you, and not only will we be able to keep the jobs that we moved far away from, but we will be able to take your land to enable our segregation from you.

Highway expansion was never, ever about actual transportation, like much of the development of the built environment. It remains about control. Our understanding of how a city functions has been centered around the highway because a highway represents the control that so many people desire to subjugate BIPOCQ people. Expanding IH-35 should not be framed as a transportation issue, any more than the need to keep people starving, homeless, and lacking health care is a voting issue. People could make the right choices if they wanted to, and they choose not to because they want attention and people begging them to do the right thing.

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