Jump to content


Full Member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Posts posted by ToryGattis

  1. I'm as big a fan of Houston as they come, but honestly, don't see this as realistic or a good fit. Houston has a lot of pros and cons mentioned in this thread, but I think the ultimate deal killer is that no one wants to compete with energy companies for talent (both white and blue collar) if oil spikes back up towards $100/barrel (unlikely, but possible).  DFW, Austin, and Denver have the inside track (IMHO).

  2. I don't think that's exactly what he meant in his comment, and you can't really reduce the issue down to such simple terms like that without looking a little ignorant.


    Oh, I think you might be misunderstanding me.  I actually support both, but I understand why the landowners fight the HSR and not the road. Put simply, they directly benefit from using the road, and they don't from the HSR as long as there are no intermediate stops.  The HSR is pure cutting-their-land-in-half inconvenience for them (although the counties will get increased property taxes).  I think the HSR would be smart to negotiate the intermediate counties helping fund some intermediate stops for a few daily non-express/local-stop trains that would run each day. It would require short bypass tracks at the stops so the express Houston-Dallas trains could blow past them, but it might substantially ease the opposition.

    • Like 1
  3. I'm curious if you'll see the same kind of opposition to this as you do with the HSR.


    Somehow, I don't think you will.


    I also think that while they'll try and stick to 190, you will see parts of this interstate taking land and straightening the route.


    But hey, that's just me.


    Well, that's the difference between a nice road you can use yourself and a train just blowing through your land without a stop...

  4. Frankly, I'd like to see them go one step further and just tunnel 610 from 10 to 59/69, build an express tunnel for both directions, build a local access tunnel for both directions, and put a local access parkway at grade. Double the total number of lanes.


    I'd imagine the folks with the MP Conservancy would put their positive power behind such a plan.


    Post Oak Parkway anyone??


    I was thinking of something similar, but potentially less expensive: full double deck, but the lower deck would be a trench like 59 east of Shepherd.  The upper deck would be a cap on it, with plenty of room for air gaps as needed for ventilation.  And it solves the problem of lanes elevated high in the air (which seems to upset all the adjacent people).  The tricky part would be the bayou, of course.  It may have to be a tunnel or elevated for just that portion.

    • Like 3
  5. The other advantage of frontage roads, which hasn't been mentioned yet, it makes it possible to widen freeways. I am sure that there are many cities that would've liked to widen their freeways but couldn't because of the houses along it, making it politically impossible and a huge amount of ROW to purchase. But if you have commercial establishments, it makes it easier to do such a thing. People get unhappy if dozens of houses are ripped down to widen a freeway, but (unless you're a bit of a weirdo like me), they don't care nearly as much for gas stations, a Burger King, and a slightly aging but otherwise viable motel being wiped out, because those things are replaceable.

    Would I be wrong to say that the Katy Freeway widening wouldn't have faced nearly the resistance it did if it wasn't for all those homes that DID face the freeway?


    Absolutely, on all counts.  Note that the homes facing the Katy were in the zoned villages along there.

    • Like 2
  6. Logical fallacy? Do trees not absorb carbon dioxide?


    Carbon dioxide is involved with climate change, but it is absolutely *not* a pollutant that is directly harmful to humans (we breathe it in and out perfectly naturally).  The pollution buffer being discussed here is for other tailpipe emissions and especially particulates (mostly from diesels). 

    • Like 1
  7. How are you so sure of this? There are commercial areas behind a small buffer zone along these freeways in a lot of these areas. Not to mention in places like the Northeast, there is usually a nice tree buffer between the freeways and homes instead of just a sound wall.


    Based on my experience driving around Houston and LA/OC - your mileage may vary in other cities.  NE tree buffers are nice too, but I don't think they tend to be as wide of an air pollution buffer as a feeder + commercial development (I could be wrong, it's been a long time since I drove NE freeways.  I don't remember how thick the tree buffer is, but would be surprised if it's hundreds of feet).

  8. High-traffic commercial development is often noisier than a freeway with a sound barrier (easy to construct when the funds for feeders are freed up). Likewise, it's generally more pleasant to live next to a sound wall than it is to live next to the loading area of a strip center.


    I'm just going to flat out disagree with that.  A few backside delivery trucks during the business day don't make that much noise (and almost none at night) - certainly compared to the continuous rumble of freeway traffic, 18-wheeler air-brakes, or firetruck and police sirens screaming by.  And the benefits of the air pollution buffer far outweigh any noise.

  9. There isn't always commercial development between houses and the feeder.


    Usually there is, but I agree it's not ideal when housing is close to the freeway. In CA, that is very common.  In Houston, it's pretty uncommon.  The feeder provides some spacing, and the usual commercial development provides even more in most cases.  The most valuable use of land along a feeder is almost always commercial.  If residential is there, it's often because of zoning (in places outside of Houston, like Bellaire with 610) or deed restrictions.

    • Like 1
  10. Do you think the benefits of feeder roads depend on how "urbanized" the area around it is though? I mean, obviously, since the new GP doesn't have them when it crosses through rural areas, but obviously the development will catch up with the GP like in Cinco Ranch.

    Would you argue that CR adapted to the lack of feeder roads adequately, or do you think that the development has pushed for a greater need for feeder roads?


    I have not been out to Cinco Ranch, so I can't comment. I know they decided to do the GP without feeders, mainly for aesthetic reasons (they wanted a "nature drive" like a lot of northeast freeways), but I'm sure it also saved plenty of money (180 miles of feeders is substantial) and increases revenue by forcing people to pay the tolls rather than plug along the feeder (like routinely happens along Beltway 8).

    • Like 1
  11. Do you not think the houses just off 610 don't get air pollution because of 2-3 feeder lanes? The effects of immediate air pollution affect far beyond that. That's a bad argument.


    The buffer is the combination of feeder lanes plus the commercial development along the feeder, usually a big parking lot combined with a big box store or strip center (or office towers).  The residential ends up at least a couple hundred feet from the freeway, which gets outside the worst of the pollution plume.

    • Like 2
  12. I was precisely imagining exiting 'the 405' going to john wayne airport. even at off peak times you are sitting still in main lanes of the freeway waiting for the light to cycle so you can go. meanwhile, because it's off-peak, the traffic is whizzing by in the left lanes. all it takes is one person texting and boom.


    That's but one example of pretty much every exit from 'the 405' and 'the 5' I can think of. I never lived in Orange County California, but I've spent enough times there (the mothership for my company is there, so I'll be there for weeks at a time at least once or twice a year) to know, a system without feeders isn't better. It's different, but it's not better, and going to a different system just because it's different, that's no reason to do it. In many ways, our system is better.


    Our way is at least more convenient, and that's a big win in my book.


    I'll second all of that based on my time in OC.  I also feel bad for all the houses pressed up close to the freeway in OC and CA in general. Yes, they may have a sound wall, but they're still getting the air pollution.  One of my earliest blog posts was on the benefits of frontage roads, and one of the biggest is a commercial noise and pollution buffer zone between freeways and residential areas.  That also makes expansions much easier with less opposition.  Think about almost all of Houston's big fights over freeway projects, and it's where they go through residential areas (usually without feeders - like the 59 trench and 45N by the Heights).  And then frontage roads also enable tons of businesses to get visibility they otherwise couldn't afford and they just make navigation a whole lot easier.  Good backup alternative for construction and accident closures as well.  They may not be beautiful, but they're incredibly functional.




    • Like 1
  13. I get the point of freeways, I really do. I just don't understand the pride one gets from seeing a highway cut across an untouched landscape that will soon fill up with the same boring, cookie-cutter, suburban hellacape that it will inevitably become. The fact that our flat city only exacerbates this issue makes me more frustrated.

    I understand that we can't just build a million mid rises or high rises, etc, because land here is cheap, but I'm tired of looking at the same flat 2-3 story landscape outside of the Beltway in most areas, while having people simultaneously complain about traffic, argue for bigger roads, and then turn around and complain when those bigger, newer, tolled roads are full almost immediately upon opening. Unless they are the toll roads to nowhere, or through nowhere (249 or Grand Parkway), they are just as full as other roads.

    But yeah, freeways are super duper popular.


    The pride is about the opportunity that highways provide the American dream of homeownership in a good neighborhood with good schools for millions of people.  I agree it's no great shakes aesthetically, but that doesn't mean it's not aspirational for most families.  Not my scene either, which is why I live in a Midtown midrise.  The key is choice.  If you want to live in density by the light rail, by all means do.

    • Like 3
  14. I may just be poking the bear, so to speak, but while toll roads do in fact pay for themselves and more, they don't pay the car payments, and the vehicle maintenance, and the auto insurance, and the tanks of gas, and the registration fees, and the parking, and.... you get the idea--the numerous costs the taxpayer must bear themselves if they wish to use the toll road. 


    Comparing highways to railways without considering the various costs of the vehicle to use the pathway of choice, is the same as comparing renting versus buying a house without taking into account taxes and HOA fees.


    How about doing a comparison of trip cost instead of "per mile" and consider vehicle expense to the citizenry as well? 


    Well, of course, this argument can be used for anything - not just transportation - like, say, housing.  People pay too much for housing, so maybe the government should build nice, affordable, concrete apartment towers for all of us to live in? (a la the Eastern Bloc)  Government should invest the fewest taxpayer dollars to create the most benefit.  In the case of transportation, that turned out to be roads - about the simplest way government can provide mass mobility (it is just an asphalt strip, after all).  Can't afford the car to run on the road? Then government provides a subsidized bus network as an alternative.  Bonus: the bus gets to use the transportation infrastructure network the government already built!  (as opposed to creating a new one from scratch, like, say, a transit rail network)  That's great infrastructure utilization.


    In any case, the car is still cheaper than rail.  See



    "Automobiles continue to maintain a huge cost advantage over passenger rail. Counting both subsidies and personal costs, Americans spend less than 25 cents a passenger mile on autos, nearly 60 cents a passenger mile on Amtrak, and more than 90 cents a passenger mile on urban transit. No wonder 85% of all our passenger travel is by automobile."


    and another one: 


    Transport Costs Per Passenger Mile


    • Like 2
  15. Highways tend to be a bad cost benefit proposition but you advocate for those. You're ideologically against rail we get it.


    Compare the taxpayer cost per person-mile moved - it's no contest.  Recent Chronicle story said the new Tomball tollway is attracting twice the usage they predicted - freeways are popular, even tolled ones (which pay for themselves, unlike any rail project).

    • Like 1
  16. Bah perfect place for commuter rail.


    Rail?! Rail in general tends to be a bad cost-benefit proposition, but why would you ever consider building one when one *already exists* a mile to the west perfectly connecting the Med Center and Downtown?  There *might* be a good argument for extending the existing line south (although I doubt it), but there's no universe where it makes sense to build a parallel line!

    • Like 2
  17. Oh, I don't have a problem with mixed use near P&R stations.  That's great if the market demands it.  But I don't think that's a criteria for judging a system, since I think most of the people that would want to live in dense mixed-use would pick something along the light rail in the core rather than a remote suburban P&R.  But to the extent it's happening, great!

    • Like 1
  • Create New...