ToryGattis

The Pierce Elevated/I-59 Redesign Thread

Pierce Skypark or Demolish Pierce Elevated?   102 members have voted

  1. 1. Pierce Skypark or Demolish Pierce Elevated?

    • Pierce Skypark
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    • Demolish Pierce Elevated
      71

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1210 posts in this topic

Plenty of red meat here both in the article and in the comments. I think the downtown roundabout idea is pretty intriguing, although the years of construction to make it a reality makes me shudder. Could suffocate downtown the way LRT construction suffocated those corridors.

http://www.chron.com/news/article/Here-s-a-roundabout-way-to-ease-traffic-congestion-3836900.php

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Interesting idea. I love the idea to bury 45. Not quite sure about the roudabout though. Imagine a backup - every freeway in Houston that goes through downtown would be backed up. The OP compared this to light rail construction - not even close. Literally hundreds of thousands of people use these highways around downtown every day.

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I've posted this before, but one possible solution to the 45/59/288/Spur mess is to make the Pierce Elevated portion of 45 straight through from the Scott exit past 10 to 610 - no on/off access except before and after the elevated. make the 59 & 288 traffic exit to surface streets for CBD destinations, or travel to 610 in either direction to access 45 n or s.

with all roads forced straight through, that might remove the continual jam at 45/59/288 and move it to the 610/45 interchanges where at least there is room to redesign/expand to handle ever-increasing volume.

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Another thought: if they do explore the roundabout concept, I hope they make it counterclockwise. Can't beat that skyline view coming south on 45N... especially at sunset or at night...

Edited by ToryGattis

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I agree, it is interesting, but an accident doesn't have to occur in the roundabout to screw things up. A sizable accident on ONE of the outbound freeways could spell disaster

1435_ATT00048.jpg

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exactly - that's why you've got to keep moving the traffic straight through until you've removed the bottleneck from the CBD. A roundabout is a 360 degree bottleneck-in-waiting.

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ugh, I can swear that I posted a response somewhere here in regards to congestion on downtown freeways saying that they just need to make the 'mini loop' around downtown the worlds largest roundabout. Whoever read that and then decided it was a good idea, I WAS JOKING!!!

At the same time, they could possibly engineer in some pit exits, and entice the INDY cars back to Houston....

Edited by samagon

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exactly - that's why you've got to keep moving the traffic straight through until you've removed the bottleneck from the CBD. A roundabout is a 360 degree bottleneck-in-waiting.

The solution is a 720-degree roundabout. Two roundabouts, one on top of the other, one going clockwise and the other counterclockwise. If there's a backup on one, then thru-traffic can take the other.

In essence, it'd be the same concept that we have today except with double the capacity on the same amount of land.

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The solution is a 720-degree roundabout. Two roundabouts, one on top of the other, one going clockwise and the other counterclockwise. If there's a backup on one, then thru-traffic can take the other.

In essence, it'd be the same concept that we have today except with double the capacity on the same amount of land.

I don't think that's technically a roundabout - that's just a split deck freeway where each direction is at a different level ;-) But I like it. Easier might be to create some elevated express lanes over the Pierce Elevated - no local entrances or exits, just express lanes for 45N and S.

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I like these ideas, but how much is someing like this going to cost? I mean if we are talking about converting all of these freeways into roundabouts - double decker roundabouts no less - what would the pricetag be? $10 billion?

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I like these ideas, but how much is someing like this going to cost? I mean if we are talking about converting all of these freeways into roundabouts - double decker roundabouts no less - what would the pricetag be? $10 billion?

The biggest cost drivers on recent freeway projects have been land acquisition issues. In the downtown area, building up and down is probably less expensive than building outward. And whatever the case may be, facilitating easy movement of commuters within the downtown area adds to its viability, dynamism, and to property values there and nearby.

That said, 2016 Main probably wouldn't cost terribly much to buy up and take down. And I wouldn't mind seeing the gigantic white cross on the St. Joseph Professional Building go down...with the building if necessary. And aside from those two highrises, there's not very much standing in the way of widening. Perhaps there should be a moratorium on anything more than two stories in height being built next to the downtown freeways in order to protect the easement for future use.

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I like these ideas, but how much is someing like this going to cost? I mean if we are talking about converting all of these freeways into roundabouts - double decker roundabouts no less - what would the pricetag be? $10 billion?

my idea also has the virtue of being a hell of a lot cheaper than other ideas presented here, especially sinking or double decking - just closing on/off access ramps, build a few flyover ramps to get people off before the elevated, redesign the 610/45 north & south interchanges...

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I've been on roundabouts many, many times. They are a novelty but an annoyance also. Also, burying 45 is okay but subway is out of the question? Just shows our twisted priorities here.

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I've been on roundabouts many, many times. They are a novelty but an annoyance also. Also, burying 45 is okay but subway is out of the question? Just shows our twisted priorities here.

this thread is about through automobile traffic, not fixed guideway mass transit.

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The I45 tunnel idea is an old one. I found an old, (seemingly) pro-tunnel interview with one of the tunnel advocates.

http://www.downtownhouston.com/live/qol/I45_Tunnel.php

The question is what prevents this from becoming a gigantic cost-overrun like Boston's Big Dig, and how do you deal with future expansion? (re-build the future expansion freeway on the reclaimed greenspace?)

I'm not against it per say as I can only wonder what it will sound like when I (eventually) run my Maserati cabrio through it at speeds that will remain unmentionable.

Oh, and when someone says they will consider it....

Edited by TGM

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this thread is about through automobile traffic, not fixed guideway mass transit.

I'm allowed to speak my piece.

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I'm allowed to speak my piece.

you believe introducing a discussion of subways is in some way germane to a discussion of building a freeway roundabout for automobiles traveling on an existing interstate highway? you believe that a subway could in some way be relevant to the problem of several freeways merging in the same spot in the CBD?

Edited by IHB2

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you believe introducing a discussion of subways is in some way germane to a discussion of building a freeway roundabout for automobiles traveling on an existing interstate highway? you believe that a subway could in some way be relevant to the problem of several freeways merging in the same spot in the CBD?

It was brought up in the very first post.

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i vote to dismantle i-45 through downtown between the north and south loops. make i-45 a grand boulevard from the north to south loop. rename it of course. add direct connect lanes around the loop to reconnect with i-45 for pass through traffic. build the university line and other short distance transportation options inside the loop.

....back from la la land: any options to eliminate elevated freeways around the city's core is a plus. the roundabout idea does not sound as if it will accomplish a better urban fabric only help traffic move through the city quicker. why not consider alternatives that accomplish both better traffic control and less freeway "barriers" separating and dividing neighborhoods.

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Once the idea of a downtown "roundabout" is studied it will be dismissed very quickly.

First, it makes no sense to send one direction of Interstate 10 traffic around downtown. Interstate 10 will need to remain 2-way.

Second, you are introducing a substantially longer distance to travel for many vehicles, which in itself translates to more traffic. The shortest path is normally more efficient.

If the Pierce Elevated and US 59 Chartres Elevated are one way, the north side of the loop (Interstate 10) will need to be made much wider, at least double its current number of lanes, to handle the US 59 and IH 45 traffic. This would be costly - I'm not sure if it is feasible.

The cost of reconfiguring the interchanges, particularly at US 59/IH45 will be high. Since that interchange is old and will near the end of its life in 10-20 years, that may not be an issue. But the US 59/IH 10 interchange will also need major work and that interchange is about 9 years old.

Also, keep in mind that the main benefit of one-way streets (such as downtown streets) is to make turning movements much more efficient (no cycle time for left turns) and eliminate crossing traffic. These benefits don't exist for a freeway since freeways are already limited-access.

If political leaders want to solve the problem they're going to have to widen the two biggest bottlenecks downtown: the Pierce Elevated and US 59 between Spur 527 and SH 288, and ensure proper lane balance for the new lanes.

I think it is feasible to widen the Pierce Elevated - the 1960s-era 2016 Main and St. Josephs building could be acquired for a feasible cost. It will take some political leadership to move any improvments forward, and I see lack of leadership as more of a problem than the cost of property acquisition.

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Max, what do you think of a simplified solution like I45 express lanes (no entrances or exits) elevated above the Pierce? Then the 59/288 exit could be re-striped to send 2 lanes onto the Pierce instead of 1 (only one will be needed from 45 on the lower level to handle those exiting Allen Parkway, Memorial/Houston, etc.).

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Since we're dreaming here, how about moving I-45 one block south between Gray and Webster and depressing it instead of having an elevated structure? It would get rid of that bus station that's deplored so much. Then, the old Pierce Elevated footprint could be developed for businesses, downtown living, or turned into a park.

Also, Instead of having 59 NB traffic navigate the 59/288 split and weave to get onto I-45, why not extend Spur 527 from its current terminus at Elgin and have it terminate at 45 instead, providing a direct link from 59 to 45 without the weaving at 288?

Edited by JLWM8609

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