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A road is a road is a road The long-embattled McAllister Freeway was opened in San An tonio Feb. 7 with an orgy of selfcongratulation by state officials and the city’s old guard. “I’m filled with so much emotion, I don’t know what I’m going to say,” former mayor Walter W. McAllister told the 350 or so celebrants who gathered for ceremonies in the Pearl Brewery’s Jersey Lilly room. The freeway bears the 88-year-old McAllister’s name because of his efforts in guiding its construction through 14 years of court battles with property owners and environmentalists. McAllister managed to choke back his emotions long enough to sing the merits of the six-mile stretch of highway that links Loop 410 near International Airport with downtown. In addition to savings in gas, time and accidents, McAllister said, his namesake road will give the city “the most dramatic entrance from the airport of any of the 25 major U.S. cities.” Take that, Grand Rapids! “I’d like to undo my shoes and let my tie out,” said State Highway Department chairman Reagan Houston. “I just want to say ‘Hallelujah!’ ” But it was left to Gov. Dolph Briscoe, whose affection for highways is well known, to top everybody. “This is a great day for Texas,” Briscoe said. He also dubbed the freeway “an inspiration” and McAllister “one of the great Texans of all time.” As Briscoe put a pair of red, white and blue scissors to a ribbon over a scale model of the expressway, the John Jay High School band broke into “King of the Road.” Shortly thereafter, the barricades were removed and the first cars rolled onto one of the most controversial and expensive freeways in history. First proposed in 1956, the freeway soon ran into opposition from opponents who objected to its planned course through Brackenridge Park, the Incarnate Word College campus, and across the Olmos basin and dam. The first lawsuit was filed in 1961, and construction wasn’t begun until 1975. The road finally was built entirely with state funds after U.S. Sen. Ralph Yarborough pushed a measure through Congress in 1966 halting federal funds for most highways planned to go through parks. Naturally, costs skyrocketed during all the fighting. The portion of the McAllister opened last month cost $40.4 million. When the final sections are completed north of Loop 410, the price tag will come to $52.3 million. The low bid on the 2.5 mile center section came to $22,607,000the largest single construction contract in Highway Department history. A final note: The city’s two dailies are at odds over what to call the new road. The signs call it the McAllister Freeway. San Antonio Express-News staffers, however, are under strict orders to write McAllister Expressway in news copy, for reasons which are unclear. A stone’s throw away at the Light, reporters are instructed to call the road the McAllister Freeway because, says one Observer source, to do otherwise would involve use of the hated word “Express.” Jay Brakefield 5GT Mayor Lila Cockrell, Walter McAllister and Gov. Dolph Briscoe Praise the Lord Calling himself “a born-again human rights storm trooper,” U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson told Austin American Statesman reporter Brenda Bell that he is outraged by development projects funded by the World Bank in the communist-controlled countries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The U.S. is the major stockholder in the World Bank, and Wilson says his East Texas constituents would be mighty offended to know that their tax money is going to support development in countries where there is little regard for human rights. A member of the appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, Wilson says he wants to cut the U.S. contribution to the World Bank by at least half. This is the same Charlie Wilson who has led the charge in Congress to guarantee continued military aid to Nicaragua, where the Somoza dictatorship has earned a reputation as one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights \(Obs., The Magic Valley The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the lowest per-capita yearly income of any metropolitan area in the country is that of McAllen-PharrEdinburg$2,220. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13