The drive on I-35 from Austin to San Antonio unfolds like a master class on suburban sprawl. Over the last couple decades, the two Texas cities, separated by some 80 miles, have grown to be nearly contiguous. Where before rolling farm fields and wooded river bottoms were but punctuated by the intervening towns—Buda, Kyle, San Marcos, New Braunfels, Schertz—today there is scarcely a break in the chain of gas stations, fast food restaurants, motels, shopping centers, subdivisions, apartment blocks, and industrial parks. The freeway offers many exits but no relief.
To alleviate the mounting anxiety created by this onslaught of development—the road’s billboards scream
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