Static suffers acid reflux every time highway planners try to cram mega-toll roads down Texans’ throats. Empathy wells up when ranchers and farmers talk about losing huge swaths of their land, and anger flares when transportation flaks tell the hicks to dig a damned tunnel if they need to get their cattle across the 12-lane monsters.

But then Static personally experienced an existing toll road and – hey, folks, this stuff is just wrong. Where are the torches and megaphones? What are we waiting for?
Static recently drove to that asphalt-flavored, strip-center-lined chamber of horrors alternately referred to as either Houston or Hades.

Sam Houston Tollway was allegedly the quickest way to get from the northwest to the south side of Behemothville, but several $1.50 delays later, this seemed to be an unpleasant urban myth only slightly less annoying than waking up in an ice-filled bathtub missing a kidney. The real problem was the first toll plaza, which Static admittedly flubbed, ending up in the Tolltag lane without a tag. Tried to pay double at the next toll booth, but noooo, that would have been too easy.


On Monday, the solution to the uneasy lingering question landed in the mailbox. What price a single $1.50 missed toll? Answer: almost $35 – including the processing fee. Do you know how many gin and tonics $35 will buy? How many good books (used paperbacks)? Albums? Mole enchiladas at El Asadero? Stamps on angry letters to legislators?

Just think of the thrills and bills we all have to look forward to if corporations – huge, foreign corporations – take over our highways. They sure won’t be calling them freeways anymore.

Soul(less) City
Driving around Fort Worth’s revitalized inner-city neighborhoods is kind of like taking a dominatrix to your high-school reunion – both exciting and scary. Sure, there are some fine-looking new residences being built. But are they packing ’em in too deep? That’s life in the big city – stuff happens. Sometimes it’s shiny, sometimes it’s Shinola.

There’s one thing that doesn’t have to happen, though – boring, cookie-cutter names for the new developments going up on old ground. It doesn’t cost a builder any more to call his condos something that honors the history of the ‘hood, or calls up some actual piece of Fort Worth geography or heritage. Trinity Uptown – major yawn.

That’s so similar to … yes, Static has it – Dallas’ Uptown development, where the name also has no connection to the neighborhood. Why couldn’t the development along Samuels Avenue, for instance, have been named Pioneers Ridge, or Samuels Place? This stuff is bad enough in suburbia; in places that actually have some history, it’s inexcusable.

Static’s suggestions for the next catchy combo-name developments: Anywhere Square. Generic Place. And best of all, Retread de Dallas.