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Everything posted by ToryGattis

  1. Neither Park-and-Rides nor commuter rail are about mixed-use near the stations. That's not their purpose. They're to get suburban commuters into the jobs in the city. There are vast swaths of land around the existing light rail stops in the core if developers want to build dense mixed-use communities. I'm not saying the P&R HOV system is perfect, but a lot fewer dollars could make substantial improvements to it vs. a mega multi-billion dollar commuter rail system. If there are too many buses on Travis, then distribute the bus routes better on the downtown grid, or transfer passengers to the light rail, or create a new circulator system - any of which is still vastly cheaper than commuter rail (which would also require circulator transfers for the last mile, as the article points out).
  2. Why would you do this when expanded Park-and-Ride express commuter services could provide faster service for one-tenth the cost, if not less?
  3. Thanks for this graphic - very interesting. Yes, I have also heard that the parallel terminals plan got scrapped, and I support that and even called for it. Not only would the construction have been extremely disruptive and expensive (raising landing fees and disadvantaging United's hub), it would have created a *single* pick-up and drop-off zone - one of the world's largest bottlenecks. My understanding is that has become a major problem at Atlanta. It's much more efficient for security - just one point instead of spread over multiple terminals - but I don't think the tradeoff is worth it. As it is even with the car traffic spread over multiple terminals there can be substantial backups and bottlenecks - I can't even imagine would it would be like if all of that traffic was combined into a single choke-point.
  4. I think her strength may be more administration than politics (which works really well for a strong mayor city). I suspect her most likely scenario is a high level appointment in a new Clinton administration, or possibly even in a Republican administration (don't they usually try to cross the aisle for a few high-level appointments?).
  5. Federal dollars were available for a heavy rail system in the nation's capital that aren't available anywhere else. Also helps that the feds force almost all government employment into the core downtown - not the case in Houston.
  6. Just spent 13 days in Sydney in November and never got bored. Stay at the Meriton Serviced Apartments on Campbell Street - great place in a great location, top rated on Tripadvisor - reserve soon, it fills fast. It's also near all the great Chinatown restaurants, which are much tastier and more reasonably priced than downtown or the other tourist areas. Tripadvisor is great for finding things to do too (attractions ranked). Take a day tour to the Blue Mountains - tons of operators, we did Blue Diamond and loved them. It included a wildlife park where you feed kangaroos and hold a koala. That day trip was probably the highlight of our stay. Totally worth the price. Reviews: http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g255060-d1745257-Reviews-Blue_Diamond_Tours_Blue_Mountains_Day_Tour-Sydney_New_South_Wales.html Bridge climb is not to be missed. Do it at sunset - it's spectacular, and you get both the day and night views. Be aware that the first hour is training, so I'd schedule it roughly 1.5 hours before sunset, which you can look up online. Had a ton of fun doing this escape room puzzle: http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g255060-d6783885-Reviews-Mission_Room_Escape_Sydney-Sydney_New_South_Wales.html Definitely walk Darling Harbor, The Rocks, Bondi Beach (trail goes south from the beach), Manly Beach (awesome harbor ferry ride + trail leads to old WW2 gun emplacements), and maybe Chinatown (neat markets, right next to the hotel above). Cockatoo Island is fun to explore (Google and/or Tripadvisor it). We enjoyed the Maritime and Powerhouse museums, especially the old Aussie sub at the Maritime. Here are my overall reviews, including the hotel: http://www.tripadvisor.com/members-citypage/EasyToPleaseTrav/g255060 Don't know if I'd recommend the harbor dinner cruise: you can get just as spectacular views with the normal ferries, and they're much much cheaper. All in all, I think you're going to find 5 nights inadequate in Sydney, but pack in as much as you can and have fun!
  7. ToryGattis

    Boeing 747

    Just flew the Qantas A380 from LAX to Sydney and it was awesome. Highly recommended. Air New Zealand has some nice 787's too with the big windows. I saw a lot of 747s at the Sydney airport. If you want to fly one, foreign carriers (especially Asian) are probably better than domestic.
  8. Yes, there are other domed stadiums, but there is something iconic about being the first (like the Coliseum in Rome) as well as the beautiful geometric design of that roof. I feel the same awe standing under it and looking up as I did when I was under the Eiffel Tower - they're both intricate designs of beauty as well as engineering marvels.
  9. Love this! Sent it to Judge Emmett's office (everybody should), Lisa Gray at the Chronicle, and will be blogging about it at some point at Houston Strategies. This could really get the public excited about the concept and more supportive!
  10. Fair point, but we're not really his target audience - he's trying to get other cities to look to us as a model instead of to NYC or SF.
  11. He does work for lots of cities, but he doesn't promote any of them as much as he does Houston. He truly believes other cities can learn from the Houston model of affordability, upward social mobility, good paying blue collar/middle skill/industrial jobs, and all around friendliness to middle class families.
  12. Ross is right. Allen Parkway is used for many events, including the Art Car Parade, and the gated crossover gives them flexibility during those closures.
  13. My thought on this topic has always been simple logic: if a neighborhood can stay the same, get better, or get worseand getting better = gentrification = bad = we enact policies to stop itso neighborhoods can only stay the same or get worsethen how does a city do anything other than decline over time?...
  14. Rail is a debatable investment in general, but it certainly makes absolutely no sense for the 288 median - there is already a parallel Main Street line right to the west. They will eventually continue that south and possibly take it out to Sugar Land.
  15. Thanks. I am disappointed they are doing 2 lanes each direction instead of 4 reversible lanes, but I'm guessing the simplicity outweighs the additional capacity utilization (I'm guessing the contraflow lanes will be nearly empty during rush hour - outbound in the morning and inbound in the evening, unless they make them free or close to it).
  16. I may be wrong, but I *think* the plan is that the HOT express lanes will only go as far north as Macgregor, where there will be a flying ramp up towards the TMC, plus a merge back into the general lanes (I'm assuming) - so I don't think that landscaping north of Binz will get touched. There's really no reason to extend them farther north, because there's no place to put them once you get to 59...
  17. TXDoT is already in the advanced planning stages of putting HOT lanes there (that's why they didn't bother extending the landscaping farther south), but I think they might be making a mistake making them two-way when one-way reversible makes more sense given that the flows are strongly inbound in the morning and outbound in the evening.
  18. I would think, generally speaking, that as soon as it drops its passenger off, it already has another pick-up to head towards, so it would almost never be idle. It also might have predictive algorithms that say the most likely part of town for the next pick up and just head over there, expecting to get a new pick up order by the time it arrived. If that wasn't the case, I'd guess they'd cut deals with local parking lots for temporary holding.
  19. Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it's not pretty. I think our hope would have to be that self-driving cars really do 3x the carrying capacity of freeways, and maybe more if uber/lyft-like services can create instantaneous car pools - for example 3 people in Midtown can instantly share a single car to work on the west side in the Energy Corridor.
  20. Total agreement. And I definitely think The Woodlands needs to upgrade a couple of arterials to parkways, starting with Woodlands Parkway. The one I've wondered about for a long time in Houston would be Hillcroft/Voss between 59/Westpark and 10 (maybe even extend it up Bingle to 290). I think it would be a manageable upgrade (sunken below cross streets, same as Allen Parkway) and a great reliever for the West Loop. But even if Houston wanted to do it, I think Hunters Creek Village would quash it. Another great upgrade would be Braeswood as a pipeline from the southwest into the medical center, to take load off of 59. Thoughts?
  21. Thought this might be of interest to some HAIFers. I spent some time with the agency running the campaign today, and they're very open to feedback and ideas... http://www.thecitywithnolimits.com/youre-invited-campaign-screening/ YOU’RE INVITED! CAMPAIGN SCREENING JULY 3, 2014Houstonians are proud of our city. Our perceptions are high on measures of economic strength such as the ability to find a job, do business, or advance a career. Those who live in the Houston region are also keen on our city when it comes to measuring nightlife, arts, culture, and the opportunity to be a foodie. In order for our region to attract and build our economic base and grow the best and brightest talent to the area, we need to do all we can to raise the level of outside awareness and understanding about Houston’s great attributes. Learn how you and your organization can get involved in this exciting campaign. Join us as we present a program that has unlimited potential to help generate excitement among Houstonians – and perhaps more importantly, reach talent outside the region’s expansive geographic boundaries. The campaign holds infinite possibilities, but we need your help! Join us at one of the following campaign screening meetings: Tuesday, July 8 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. or 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday July 9 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. or 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 10 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. or 5:30-6:30 p.m. All meetings will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center General Assembly Section B, third floor 1001 Avenida De Las Americas, Houston, TX 77010 Please RSVP with your preferred date and time to mona@houston.org. Paid parking is available in the parking garage located at the corner of Polk Street and Avenida de las Americas and the parking garage located under Discovery Green Park across the street from the GRB. Venue generously donated by Houston First.
  22. I've enjoyed that aspect of the freeways and feeders around Clear Lake too, but I understand why they're changing: it uses less land (don't need the cloverleafs), and it enables easy U-turns from the feeders, which is important for accessing retail on both sides of the freeway.
  23. I think the new "Houston: The City With No Limits" brand should go on our city limit signs... lol. Actually, I think it's pretty good. Love the clever logo. The extended video at www.thecitywithnolimits.com is better - I think it does a good job showing people outside of Houston that we're a pretty good place to live with a high quality of life. Totally agree with these quotes from the articles: "Key message points focus on the area’s confidence, ambition, supportive nature, harmonious spirit, openness and forward-looking perspective, according to GHP." "While the Convention and Visitors Bureau targets convention and tourist business, the Partnership's campaign is designed to get people to move here, Harvey said." Those are very different things, and I'm glad the GHP sees that. It's why so many of the past campaigns have been so ineffective.
  24. I agree with the points made by both of you guys. Dallas also has the advantages of no major hurricane risk and more domestic flights from DFW (both number and destinations, although we win on international). But also note that our big non-energy industries - health care, NASA, Ship Channel - all have reasons they're forced to be here (including the establishment of the TMC complex in 1945). We do have a smattering of big non-energy companies (HP, BMC Software, Service Corp, Waste Mgt, etc), each with some historical reason they ended up in Houston, but I have trouble thinking of any major non-energy companies that were based elsewhere that chose to come to Houston? I'm not saying our amenities are bad or that we're inferior to Dallas (anybody who reads my blog knows that very well!), I'm just saying there are specific reasons non-energy companies moving to Texas often pick Austin or Dallas, and not competing with the cash-flush energy industry for talent is one of those reasons. It's unfortunate our dominant industry that has done so much for us has that downside, but it's not surprising when you think about it. I have often thought that with our international diversity, wide range of international flights, and central location, we should work harder to attract U.S. divisional headquarters for the "Americas" operations of foreign companies. If you were a major European or Asian company and wanted to set up an "Americas" division HQ, can you think of a better city for it than Houston?
  25. Airlines are a single large business, and of course they want to be near their largest hub. Companies like Exxon have dozens of large business units run semi-autonomously. They want the overall HQ to have some distance from those units, so they evaluate their performance objectively/analytically and not get biased (as much) by personalities and relationships. It also helps prevent favoritism towards executives of any one business unit for promotions to HQ, which might happen if they were co-located. Disappoints me too though - I'd love to see the Exxon HQ in Houston.
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