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Posts posted by ToryGattis

  1. 10 minutes ago, bulldog said:

    Yes, I know it's silly to think that given the word from CoH and public news sources that all refer to repair and a schedule for it. The last public information was:

    Interesting that the repair process stalled out right after it started. This turn-it-into-a-park proposal seems like an opportunistic move by Westmoreland. As I said previously it's very clever on their part to use their special interest position to get benefits bestowed on themselves by the government at the expense of thousands of other citizens but I'm optimistic that won't be successful.


    Don't worry, the city will be getting my input and that of a lot of other people.


    Yep, that's what I thought too and then I saw the work stall and wondered what was going on.  The park proposal is from Houston Public Works, so it's very official.  They're seeking input now.

  2. 2 minutes ago, bulldog said:

    I haven't complained because I'm happy the city is finally fixing a bridge that has been literally falling apart for years.


    Well, that's what people think is happening, but the reality is that the City is considering not rebuilding it or even tearing it down.  See the renderings at the top of this thread. If that's an issue for you, you need to send them feedback at Buildforward@houstontx.gov

  3. 21 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:


    This is a more thoughtful post than your previous one. I think though that if we are being honest about letting people choose, then we also need to slowly shift the balance of priority in planning decisions as inner city neighborhoods become more and more important. Perform some cost-benefit analysis. There is obviously a cost to closing the part of the Spur that they want to close for this park plan (although as mollusk made the case above, not very much), and a larger cost to closing the rest of the Spur. Commuters from the southwest will see an increase of 5-10 minutes in their downtown commute, which will have a marginal effect on leasing downtown.


    What is the opportunity? A major stigma is removed from an up-and-coming urban neighborhood, land along the Spur doubles or triples in value, attracting a wave of development (mostly mid-rise and some high-rise multi-family) similar to what other new parks in the inner city have attracted (Buffalo Bayou, Discovery Green, Super Block), increasing the city's tax base and adding to the image of Houston as a green city with high quality of life. Real estate brokers in urban environments often say that "wherever Whole Foods locates becomes the center of the universe." We already have the new Whole Foods at Elgin and Brazos; remove a stigma and put a park in front of it and you have a catalyst for accelerated redevelopment and value increases over a 5-block radius. The number of commuters lost who live outside the city will be more than compensated by the number of people living in new midrise and highrises on the city tax rolls. Not a hard decision for COH.



    Well, ironically, Whole Foods located there counting on the traffic coming off the spur and up Brazos.  They would very much like it reopened.  I've been to that Whole Foods several times and they are definitely lacking customers right now. The cashiers told me it's dead all the time.  I think Whole Foods took a risk locating in a food desert, and it hasn't paid off so far. We need to support it before they close it, and that may mean seriously considering reopening the Brazos bridge.  


    I could see closing just Brazos and Bagby as being tolerable, as I said in my post, but closing the entire spur would be a disaster.


    I think Midtown has developed just fine - gangbusters even - even with the fast one-way streets. No need to remove them. If Manhattan has them, I don't see why we shouldn't either.  Clearly a vibrant walkable community can spring up just fine around them.

  4. 3 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:


    Nothing is ever well established. When the freeways were built, it was well established that there were residential neighborhoods there, but the world was changing and those residential neighborhoods had to accept freeways being cut through them and the consequent decline in quality of life. Now the world is changing again. There's absolutely nothing wrong with inner city residents demanding that infrastructure be altered to benefit them. That's just how democracy works in city planning.


    I think for you this is kind of a culture war thing - you see the prospering inner city as a threat to how life "should be," with everyone living in a tract house growing a family. I actually do sympathize with you on the shift in societal values away from family, but I don't see this as quite the threat that you do, partly because I've lived in cities where families live in urban environments. 


    An increasingly greater proportion of downtown's workforce is coming and will continue to come from people who live closer to downtown. This means that it is less important to preserve speedways for commuters. I also get the feeling that you think that most of the change has already happened and you don't quite see that Midtown as it is now is only a shadow of what it will be in another 20 years, with tens of thousands of people living there and sidewalks thronged with pedestrians. We are still only in the first chapter of the changes that will occur.



    You misunderstand where I'm coming from.  I'm a live-and-let-live guy, families (usually in the suburbs) and non-families (typically urban).  Offer both and let people choose.  The big picture story in cities is that people have pushed the average age of marriage and children back almost a decade, and people want to live in cities and urban neighborhoods during that decade, which is totally fine and great (I live in a Midtown midrise myself). Even some empty nesters are coming back, although that is very small (the vast majority age in place in the suburbs).  What I'm trying to prevent is a scenario where the anti-suburb forces make commuting intolerable, so many major employers move out to the suburbs (like Exxon) and weaken both the core city and the overall metro (imho).  I like that Houston has a strong central core, which can't be said in all cities (and I don't just mean Detroit - I think our core is much stronger than Dallas, Atlanta, Phoenix, and even LA in some ways).  For the typical major employer, 75+% of their employees are family oriented (30-65 age range).  If they are forced to make a choice, they will pick the suburbs.  Let's not force them to make that choice.


    As far as the future of Midtown, for better or worse I think it will blend into downtown after the Pierce is removed and become more and more like downtown - probably something like a small Manhattan.  And I'll point out Manhattan has giant one-way streets as well and does better than any other city in America for pedestrian life. They are not incompatible.  In fact, midtown will probably become more like Manhattan in another way: big one-way streets moving lots of cars north-south, with smaller more intimate neighborhoods on the cross-streets.  It's a fine model. 

    • Like 5
  5. 5 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:


    Midtown is dominated by 5-lane roads with narrow sidewalks and few stops where cars whiz along at 40 mph. It is a hostile environment for pedestrians in most places. The amount of recent mixed-use development and land speculation shows that it is trying to hatch out of its egg as a truly walkable urban neighborhood but it is being held back by decisions made in the past to make it a speedzone for commuters.


    It was one thing to laugh off the urbanists when land in Midtown was worth $20/SF, but now that it is worth $200/SF, we need to realize that the world has shifted. Houston's future and competitiveness does not rely on helping people in the suburbs commute to downtown easily the way they once did. I say this as a person who lives in the suburbs with a large family. Property values in the core are skyrocketing while values in the suburbs are growing modestly with inflation because preferences are shifting to the urban core. Which means that the balance of interests in these decisions needs to likewise shift.


    Whatever detriment to the city's interests is caused by southwest commuters having to wait through a few more traffic lights on the way to work downtown is more than made up for by the creation of value resulting from removing a freeway spur in an area where land values are high and interest in urban living is high. This is, at bottom, an economic decision.



    The urban values are increasing as traffic worsens and there are an increasing number of childless households.  Suburbs stay flat because there is plenty of competition (i.e. there is a whole lot of land out there to choose from - not near as much in the core).  But this argument frustrates me the same as people who move next to an airport and then complain about the planes.  The major streets and freeways are well established. If you don't like living next to them, don't move in next to them. But don't move into them and then complain. You made your decision and knew what you were buying into.  Next thing you know, West U, Bellaire, and the westside villages will shrink or cut all their major thru-streets because they don't want people driving through them - they just want to be an endpoint.  It's selfish and self-centered and detrimental to the community as a whole.

    • Like 2
  6. 46 minutes ago, trymahjong said:

    TxDot has plans for Spur 527-


    According to TxDoT spokesperson- 527 is targeted to be placed below ground from Alabama to I59.

    That will allow commuters and residents the opportunity to experience NO ACCESS from 527........resulting in better informed opinions I’m sure. ;)



    COH/PWE reported that when Bagby was entirely closed while Brazos bridge was dismantled NO. Repeat No complaints were received at all, from anyone concerning changes in access.


    I didn't know about the underground plan. Interesting.  I think they should consider a tunnel connecting it all the way up to 45 so that traffic doesn't have to cut through the neighborhood anymore.


    People don't complain when they assume something is temporary for construction. Permanent is a different issue.  Put up a fair-sized sign at the Bagby entrance to the Spur saying it may be closed permanently along with a number to call with feedback, and then see what people say...

    • Like 4
  7. 1 minute ago, wilcal said:



    It was open on both sides originally 






    We are not talking about removing the spur.  We are talking about removing one of the entrances and the exits to the spur. 



    It appears your compassion is as keen as your reading ability. 



    Of course it's a balance, but sending tens of thousands of commuters through surface streets (and having them drive 40+ MPH) through a rapidly growing neighborhood doesn't make sense. Giving people options on places they want to live near desirable jobs that don't require them to drive 50+ miles/day is the only way sustainable way forward. 



    There was a scenario/wish made earlier in this thread about removing the spur entirely, which sparked these responses.


    There are plenty of options for people who want to live closer to core jobs, and more are built every day. We're not lacking for options.

  8. 3 minutes ago, KinkaidAlum said:

    and Midtown wasn't always a place to just go through. 


    I think providing upgrades to make Midtown a better neighborhood for those that live there are far more important than providing upgrades for commuters just buzzing through. Hell, who knows, maybe if that becomes decent park space, someone will decide the commute from Sugar Land isn't worth it and move to Midtown taking a car off the highway. 


    This is the fantasy of urbanists, when the reality is that is far more likely for an employer to give up on the core and move out to the suburbs where their family-centric employees want to live - with good schools and affordable nice new homes (like Exxon did) - than those employees moving into the core of the city. Houston can do both: upgrade and improve mobility from the suburbs to jobs in the core, while also supporting plenty of nice walkable core neighborhoods.

    • Like 3
  9. 4 hours ago, H-Town Man said:


    I didn't say you were ever opposed to walkable neighborhoods. I said you predicted for years they wouldn't work in Houston, because we don't have portable air conditioners to walk around with. I agree that we need freeways to get around the metro area. Midtown residents heading southwest have a very large freeway right close by, the Southwest Freeway. But your post above focused on the need for the spur so that lots of traffic will continue to channel through Midtown and help support big box stores. This does not say to me that you really care about urban neighborhoods, or even understand what an urban neighborhood is. You want Midtown to be a place that people can easily go through, not a place that people particularly want to go to. Your linked posts basically make the point that Houston is great with people getting around by car and doesn't need walkable neighborhoods. Increasingly, more and more people in Houston think otherwise, and you are stuck trying to sell us on Houston 1980.



    I didn't say they wouldn't work - just that Houston was built around the car because it is the only way to bring an A/C with you everywhere - and most people like that at least 5 months a year.  But I think we've developed some very fine, vibrant walkable neighborhoods.


    I think Midtown works great as it is, which is part of why it's growing so fast. It accommodates a ton of cars during the day, but turns into Houston's biggest nightlife neighborhood at night (downtown is able to do this as well).  It also has fantastic access to the rest of the city (partly through the spur), which is very attractive.  And the most walkable part is developing exactly where it should - along rail+one-lane Main St.

  10. 20 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:


    The robust freeway network has been important and continues to be important. But for about 70 years now, nearly every decision has gone in favor of freeways over local neighborhoods. Now that we have some truly successful urban neighborhoods starting to develop, it is time to reverse some of those historic bad decisions and shift the balance more in favor of neighborhoods. That means getting rid of freeway spurs that stick into developing high density areas and essentially function as takeoff ramps for people flying out to Sugarland.


    Also time to notice that it's not 1980 anymore and the world favors parks over concrete. It also favors streets over tunnels, another issue that you have taken the wrong side of. You told us for years that walkable neighborhoods would never work in Houston because people can't carry portable air conditioners, but the last 10 years has shown that they work very well when they are allowed to develop and aren't covered in concrete ramps with jerks in BMWs going 60 MPH. But I haven't seen an acknowledgment of this from you, just more pushing the 1980 paradigm.



    I've never been opposed to walkable neighborhoods. In fact, quite the opposite. But they need to be stitched together with a robust arterial and freeway network.  From a post of mine 14 years ago (!):


    "I think New Urbanism needs to realize it is a great paradigm at the neighborhood level, but that those neighborhoods need to be linked together with a freeway and arterial network across a larger region if you want an integrated and cohesive metro economy. The pedestrian and the car operate at totally different scales (3mph vs. 30-60mph), and therefore the right form factors for each are different. You don't build a city around just the pedestrian or just the car, but for both. Getting militant about one over the other makes about as much sense as asking "should our country be built around the car or the airplane?" Well, the answer is both: the car for shorter distances, and the airplane for longer ones - and that means interstates and airports. The same logic applies at the scale of a city/metro-region: you need freeways for longer distances, arterials for medium distances, and narrow streets with sidewalks for very short distances (i.e. the pedestrian district/neighborhood). New Urbanism makes the very valid point that we've sort of forgotten about that last category over the last few decades - and we're now rediscovering it - but that doesn't invalidate the other two scales any more than they invalidated the pedestrian scale."


    "The bottom line is that citizen mobility = urban vibrancy. New Urbanists need to focus on building great neighborhoods and let traffic engineers decide the right way to knit those neighborhoods together into a great city."


    There's more in that post as well:


    and another relevant one is my application of Jane Jacob's principles to a car-based city like Houston:



    • Like 1
  11. Just now, H-Town Man said:


    Yes, I've seen your blog post. Not surprising at all that you are opposed to this, since you always favor more concrete and non-stop traffic lanes over anything else and even have a co-blogger who goes by "MaxConcrete." As to your arguments that this will hurt Midtown, I think they are thin and specious, but we will see what the local residents themselves think. Now that there is a strong and growing local population, we no longer need to worry about freeway access and high traffic exposure to benefit the neighborhood. Can you agree that this is a decision that should be driven by local residents first and foremost?



    Nope. I think it needs to be a balance of local residents with the needs of the greater community and metro area.  Local residents almost always try to get all the benefits while pushing as many of the costs as possible on others.


    I think the robust freeway network is what has built Houston into the powerhouse metro that it is - #5 in the country.  Without it, we would be a tiny fraction of what we are now.


    Yeah, I'm not a fan of that screen name either, lol.  But he's a good, thoughtful guy that does great analysis.

    • Like 3
  12. 9 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

    Hopefully this is the first of several phases in eliminating the spur. The Main Street Master Plan in 2001 called for the spur to be replaced with a tree-lined boulevard.



    That would be a disaster, not just in traffic flow to/from downtown, but it would suffocate many of the businesses in Midtown that count on that flow (Specs, Whole Foods, Randalls, and others).  I don't want Midtown to go back to being a food/grocery desert.  I also think a big part of the densification in Midtown is the easy access to/from 59, including big job centers at Greenway and Uptown (and even Westpark to Westchase).


    My own views on the spur closing/park on my blog here:


    • Like 2
    • Haha 1
  13. 15 hours ago, Chi-Char-Hou-Dal said:

    They will need full time cop after hours , i hate the NEW little homeless camp that's set up on Webster - just tons of trash, needles, garbage. I drive my kids home from school past it everyday and I am having to get creative to distract them from grown adults using the street as a bathroom, passed out and convulsing. I'm not trying to turn this thread into a personal rant but it's just sad. With all the resources close by to help, I guess they need to want the help that's out there.


    I live in Midtown and the district told us to call Harris County Precinct 7 to report homeless issues. They deploy a special unit with social services. 713-643-6602

    • Like 6
  14. 13 hours ago, 102IAHexpress said:


    I think for just two? Continental merged with United in 2010 then United cut IAH CDG in 2012. It is true Continental and Air France operated the route just fine for many years but I assume that was because they were both SkyTeam partners. Actually, I think United's and Continental's combined operating certificate was not complete 'till late 2011, so AF may have still been benefitting from a CO code share even after the corporate merger but before the "FAA" merger. But I may be misremembering. Now, in 2018 they are competitors in every way. In my opinion I would rather have AF fly the route that UA. I am not a huge fan of UA. 


    Well, AF certainly has the stronger position, as I'm sure much more of their Paris feed is interested in going to Houston than UA's Houston feed is interested in going to Paris, mainly because of geography. Houston's logical draw zone from the southwest to go on to Paris is pretty weak - mainly Mexico (which would prefer not to connect in the USA) - and there are more logical hubs than Houston to go through from the western USA.  I can see why UA couldn't support the flight.  I'll bet it also filled up with reward tickets, and they might as well send reward fliers from Houston through Chicago, DC, or NYC hubs.

  15. 1 hour ago, 102IAHexpress said:



    I'm worried about United and AF competing on IAH-CDG. AF is my favorite euro carrier out of IAH (at least when I'm flying on my own dime). Their premium economy product is the best out of IAH. Not just the seats, but overall on the plane and at the airport it's a damn good product. I would hate for AF to reduce frequency at IAH or leave all together. 



    Well, they both had it for many years just fine.  My understanding is that AF is pretty safe because they have the Schlumberger corporate contract.


    Here's what I think it comes down to, once you get beyond European cities in the oil business: which Europeans are doing business in Mexico and Central America? Because Houston is the ideal connecting hub for that from Europe. There are some car plants in Mexico (inc. VW), but I don't know what else beyond that. 

  16. 20 hours ago, UtterlyUrban said:

    These would be nice:


    IAH to Paris

    IAH to Berlin

    IAH to zurich

    IAHto Vienna

    IAH to Milan


    Actually, what I would really want is for the international flights from the Entire NY Hub (and most of Washasington DC’s) to be picked up and moved to Houston.  That would be good!!!  Oh, and they could toss in Chicago and San Fran too.  One giant superhub that would allow me to always flight direct.  YES!  


    Oh, I will put the ‘ludes down now.


    Lol. The logical ones would be Paris, Vienna (Star Alliance partner Austrian hub), Zurich (partner Swiss hub), and Brussels (partner hub).

  17. 3 minutes ago, KinkaidAlum said:


    Could you imagine if 70 years ago a local Houston area politician wrote a rider into a bill to specifically block federal funds for building interstates in Harris/Galveston Counties but allowing that money to go to DFW, Portland, St Louis, etc...?


    Funny that you left out that part of the story. But, typical for you. 


    Again, the ad hominem is unnecessary.  Culberson is an elected rep, and did what he thought his constituents wanted, which was block that line. You may disagree, but that is what elected reps are supposed to do.  If constituents didn't want a freeway built or expanded, I would fully expect them to lobby their reps to block it.

  18. 5 hours ago, htownbro said:


    Houston has medical field as well so doesn't that make it a global city.


    Well, most medical tends to be local, but we do have such highly reputable specialties that people come from all over the world - cancer treatment at MD Anderson, for example.


    My thought has always been that the US only has 7 truly global cities: NYC, LA, SF, DC, Chicago, Miami, and Houston.  United's most recent investor presentation backs it up - see the chart on page 11, 12th slide in the pdf.

    • Like 2
  19. 2 minutes ago, BeerNut said:


    Were there any time limits on funding or validity of environmental studies that 'forced' them to build the Green and Purple lines?


    Possibly. They had money, voter authorization, and contractors itching to build.  I understand why they did it.  And I suppose it's possible at the time they genuinely thought they'd have enough money to finish everything eventually (the cost overruns killed that fantasy).  But all logic would argue when you have limited resources, you should build your lines in order from highest to lowest projected ridership (the original Red line was the perfect first-route choice).  Can you imagine if 70 years ago TXDoT had said "we know everybody wants a freeway to Galveston from Houston, but that's got a few problems to overcome, so we're going to just go ahead and build 59 or 288 out to some sugar and rice paddies instead and circle back to 45S in a decade or two"?!

    • Like 2
  20. New thought this morning: Amazon's rejection of Houston for HQ2 could have been as simple as bad PR optics: it just looks bad to squeeze a city for big incentives that just went through one of the most expensive natural disasters in history.  They probably imagined future nightmare stories in the media: "well, we would have spent all this money on new flood control infrastructure, but we had to give it to Amazon instead."

    • Like 1
  21. 25 minutes ago, KinkaidAlum said:

    The green and purple lines are incomplete without the University Line. We have a central North-South Line but a mostly incomplete East-West one. But, max concrete knows that. That was part of the anti-transit lobby's plan all along. Kill the extension to the West where the major employment centers are and then use the lower than anticipated ridership numbers to the partially completed sections to keep it dead. 


    It's hard to take anything he says seriously because it is in his name. He has a vested interest in killing alternative modes of travel. 


    That said, ridership numbers for both the green and purple lines are increasing. The last two months we have figures for (Oct and Nov 2017) show that ridership is up over 400,000+ year-over year and that other than the months of August-September due to Harvey and multiple service interruptions, ridership is way up in 2017. 





    Sorry, but ad hominem attacks on the arguer is a sign you know you can't win on the facts or logic.  Keep it respectful and argue on the merits, not personal attacks.


    As far as myself, I've always argued *METRO* (not opponents) made a massive error of judgment when the used limited resources to build the green and purple lines when they should have prioritized the much more useful University line.  But when Culberson blocked them, I'm guessing they figured they'd build what they could (ridership be damned) and just keep pointing to the network hole hoping to get another round of funding and authorization to build it.

    • Like 1
  22. 1 minute ago, dixiedean said:

    I went on route 103 which expresses out to IAH and Greenspoint and it looked like it had good ridership.

    Because of all the local passengers in the Greenspoint area (lots of low-income apartments), which slows down the route incredibly for airport travelers (few to none).  I'm talking about when they ran the express bus from the transit center downtown directly to and from IAH.

    • Like 1
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