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woolie

Fantasy Rail Thread (w/ maps)

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Procrastinating tonight.. so I decided to make some fantasy rail maps.

First up is my approximation of the LRT map that will exist ~2012 if everything is built as planned.

2381785789_ff21403ac3_o.jpg

Now, my fantasy map.

2381785791_89aa2b19a7_o.jpg

Alot of goals with this one. Basically I wanted to put rail down two relatively high density corridors -- Kirby running N/S and Holcombe/Bellaire running E/W.

This has the main benefit of opening up the TMC/Rice Village to increased housing and business opportunities. The TMC is extremely space constrained. Increasing rail commuting reduces the need for on-campus garages, sparing land for core TMC institutional use. Much of the value of the TMC is in fact because of the extreme proximity of the institutions -- actual walking distance (a rarity in Houston, I know.) So it's important to keep the core campus as dense as possible, and move parking to the periphery or offsite. Additionally, based on my experience, many of the people who work in the TMC are amenable to urban lifestyle and transit use (it already has a high % of transit commuters.)

The Holcombe/Bellaire line continues West until it hits Chimney Rock, when it turns North and runs through with the Uptown line. To the East, it goes along OST until it runs meets up with the Southeast (?) line. This has the benefit of connecting TSU/UH directly with the TMC. This will be extremely important if UH tries to go for a Medical School. Secondary goal of the line is to increase transit availability in Third Ward and Gulfton. Of course, it runs the risk of just causing gentrification instead. Holcombe/Bellaire is already fairly developed, and I think could sustain increased density with appropriate transit. The jobs to drive it would be just a few stops down the line.

The Kirby line aims to increase mid-rise/high-rise residential along the Kirby corridor (dovetailing with existing projects like West Ave) and with quick TMC access. It starts from Fannin South Station, runs along the OTHER side of Reliant Park to pick up TMC riders from CondoLand. It crosses the Holcombe line for transfers. It hits the Rice Village going North, and then into a heavily developed stretch of Kirby that runs until Westheimer. It skips over to Shephard via some undecided mechanism and then runs North through the Heights. Lots of room for NIMBYism in this stretch I suppose.

The third line is a large extension of the East End line. It's a nobrainer to run down Washington and then meet up with the Uptown line at the mall. I also think that continuing the line east and then running down Broadway is the best way to reach Hobby Airport. I think it'd make more sense than running the SE line down Mykawa/Airport Blvd.

Anyway, I'm not a transit planner, so there are likely unresolvable flaws in my ideas :)

Edited by woolie

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Procrastinating tonight.. so I decided to make some fantasy rail maps.

First up is my approximation of the LRT map that will exist ~2012 if everything is built as planned.

Now, my fantasy map.

Alot of goals with this one. Basically I wanted to put rail down two relatively high density corridors -- Kirby running N/S and Holcombe/Bellaire running E/W.

This has the main benefit of opening up the TMC/Rice Village to increased housing and business opportunities. The TMC is extremely space constrained. Increasing rail commuting reduces the need for on-campus garages, sparing land for core TMC institutional use. Much of the value of the TMC is in fact because of the extreme proximity of the institutions -- actual walking distance (a rarity in Houston, I know.) So it's important to keep the core campus as dense as possible, and move parking to the periphery or offsite. Additionally, based on my experience, many of the people who work in the TMC are amenable to urban lifestyle and transit use (it already has a high % of transit commuters.)

The Holcombe/Bellaire line continues West until it hits Chimney Rock, when it turns North and runs through with the Uptown line. To the East, it goes along OST until it runs meets up with the Southeast (?) line. This has the benefit of connecting TSU/UH directly with the TMC. This will be extremely important if UH tries to go for a Medical School. Secondary goal of the line is to increase transit availability in Third Ward and Gulfton. Of course, it runs the risk of just causing gentrification instead. Holcombe/Bellaire is already fairly developed, and I think could sustain increased density with appropriate transit. The jobs to drive it would be just a few stops down the line.

The Kirby line aims to increase mid-rise/high-rise residential along the Kirby corridor (dovetailing with existing projects like West Ave) and with quick TMC access. It starts from Fannin South Station, runs along the OTHER side of Reliant Park to pick up TMC riders from CondoLand. It crosses the Holcombe line for transfers. It hits the Rice Village going North, and then into a heavily developed stretch of Kirby that runs until Westheimer. It skips over to Shephard via some undecided mechanism and then runs North through the Heights. Lots of room for NIMBYism in this stretch I suppose.

The third line is a large extension of the East End line. It's a nobrainer to run down Washington and then meet up with the Uptown line at the mall. I also think that continuing the line east and then running down Broadway is the best way to reach Hobby Airport. I think it'd make more sense than running the SE line down Mykawa/Airport Blvd.

Anyway, I'm not a transit planner, so there are likely unresolvable flaws in my ideas :)

I like it... only a few thoughts from my POV.

I have spent a considerable amount of time in London, and on their Underground. I know that is one of the transportation systems that all others are measured by. HOwever, I get the sense that the speed of those vehicles is much greater (as well as capacity much greater) than our one line, due to the lights... If there is no way to tunnel or elevate on Kirby or to Hobby, I just see the time taking way too long. Airport connection is a must however. I also do like and see the need for a rail stop at Kirby & Westheimer.

I rode to reliant a few times this weekend from the house (midtown) and that trip taking 20 minutes is a bit ridiculous IMO.

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If you were going to the NCAA event, you got there faster than *I* did from Midtown (1 hour) as I was stuck in traffic on Main, even with VIP parking.

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I like the "Green Line" idea. It makes a lot of sense to run the line up Washington to connect to the Post Oak line. And it goes without saying that the airports should be connected.

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The "Inner Katy" line is on the drawing board for Phase III and it hard to find fault with using Washington to connect NWTC with downtown.

I think if a Central N-S line were decided upon, I think it would go through all the iterations of Richmond vs Westpark vs combo to decide where best to put it.

Kirby has the commercial/retail for rail, but not the right kind of residential to support it...if you think Afton Oaks was bad, how many River Oaks people do you think would fight this and would argue that that wouldnt use it realistically.

Shepherd is too narrow in some places... can you imagine the S curve N of gray with rail also. I think realistically Shepherd is the dividing line of residents likely to use rail.

Waugh/Commonwealth would make the most sense as far as a street that can handle it ( majority wide 1way streets)... at least N of Westheimer, but there's also no commerical/retail reason to put it there.

Montrose.. could work maybe.. but dont know if we want an additional rail careening into the Musuem Circle.

I think you have to look at what are the logical terminations.

I think for your Kirby, or Central N-S line, you have the Southern terminus pretty good with with either the Fannin P&R or Reliant. Would a better Southern terminus be the TMC though ?

What would the logical Northern Terminus be though for Kirby or any central N-S running line. Shepherd-Durham seems a logical place to run rail to service the Heights.. but north of 610.. where would this line go ? North Shepherd P&R ? Northline mall also ?

For your bellaire line.. i thought I heard that West U and Bellaire would probably be opposed to having rail run through them.. so maybe combine your kirby line with your Holcombe line into one.

Lastly.. we don't know if of the 3 bridges that cross Buffalo Bayou and Memorial are designed to handle rail... you might be looking at a new bridge if you wanted a N-S Central line.

Edited by Highway6

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As long as there is more grade separation (in the form of Tunnels or dedicated ROW) where practical, I'd be totally happy with the routes given above.

I wouldn't doubt that in the future some street closures would be done in some routes like they have done in Dallas.

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Who ever drew that map put ALT 90 wayyyy off

ack, looks like I managed to have a "ghost" copy of 45/59 off to the side. Probably the result of an accidental mouse drag in Illustrator. I'll fix it.

Edited by woolie

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taking a couple of hwy6's suggestions and trying to lower the cost a bit by stopping the central line short and doubletracking to the TMC.

2383144225_ea87824733_o.jpg

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I like the second map best. More connection options makes getting around easier. It can also reduce costs because you can double up on rails and stations in some cases.

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I'm liking the 2nd map as well, my only whine is that there are few options for the people live along Navigation and the north east, but I'm sure that can be done in the long run.

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I'm liking the 2nd map as well, my only whine is that there are few options for the people live along Navigation and the north east, but I'm sure that can be done in the long run.

Good point. That's already an underserved area.

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Good point. That's already an underserved area.

That, and there are quite a few jobs/factories in that area, the only major problem is going to be trying to find a way to serve both sides of the Ship Channel. You wouldn't believe how many of those merchant seamen RUN off those ships to do some shopping before they have to leave again (usually in under 36-48 hours) and try to hit the malls to stock up on DVD's and stuff.

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yes, I tried to make options for middle- and low-income communities and job areas in my map. That's why I chose to extend the East line to Hobby instead of the SE line. In the next version, I am going to extend the SE line up through the East End and to the NE loop area. Also why I strengthened the connections to Gulfton, and started extension of the Red Line down A90 for middle- income home development.

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yes, I tried to make options for middle- and low-income communities and job areas in my map. That's why I chose to extend the East line to Hobby instead of the SE line. In the next version, I am going to extend the SE line up through the East End and to the NE loop area. Also why I strengthened the connections to Gulfton, and started extension of the Red Line down A90 for middle- income home development.

You really ought to connect southwest Houston and Pasadena to this network. They're comprise some of the densest parts of our region and are chock-full of poor people which disproportionately tend to be transit users.

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You really ought to connect southwest Houston and Pasadena to this network. They're comprise some of the densest parts of our region and are chock-full of poor people which disproportionately tend to be transit users.

that's a good idea but at this distance from the job centers we're necessarily talking about commuter rail or express service. in this exercise I was mostly concerned with local streetcar service. express service requires knowledge of ROW corridors and existing heavy rail lines, which I just don't have. I'll start thinking about it for the next version.

(edit: I've spent a good amount of time in these areas in Pasadena and am familiar with the demographics of the area you're describing. Actually we effectively own real estate out there...)

Edited by woolie

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that's a good idea but at this distance from the job centers we're necessarily talking about commuter rail or express service. in this exercise I was mostly concerned with local streetcar service. express service requires knowledge of ROW corridors and existing heavy rail lines, which I just don't have. I'll start thinking about it for the next version.

The Cliff's notes version: a heavy rail ROW is available along Westpark serving southwest Houston. Pasadena has no abandoned heavy rail routes, and its Port routes are too heavily utilized to share the rail (aside from not being near anyone's residences). City streets therefore have to be utilized.

Southwest Houston's gridded thoroughfares are plenty wide enough for LRT. Pasadena may run into problems in some places and not others; its viable east/west thoroughfares are Southmore and Spencer, and if it gets hooked in from Hobby Airport, then it'll be Spencer by default. If Pasadena gets connected via Harrisburg, all bets are off.

(edit: I've spent a good amount of time in these areas in Pasadena and am familiar with the demographics of the area you're describing. Actually we effectively own real estate out there...)

By we, you mean your employer? It wouldn't happen to be the abandoned hospital building at Southmore and Pasadena Blvd., would it?

Want to sell?

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Well, LRT for Pasadena is off the table, it can SKIRT the town, but it can't go in, at least not until they want to contribute to Metro Taxes (fees, or whatever they call it).

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By we, you mean your employer? It wouldn't happen to be the abandoned hospital building at Southmore and Pasadena Blvd., would it?

Oh, no, just a house that's in the family we'll have 50% stake in a few years from now via an eventual inheritance. It's very modest, I'd say $75k at the absolute top, although I haven't done any research beyond the tax assessor. Actually if you could give me a ballpack valuation in PM by looking up sales prices, I'd be grateful. Do you do residential or just commercial nowadays?

Edited by woolie

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Well, LRT for Pasadena is off the table, it can SKIRT the town, but it can't go in, at least not until they want to contribute to Metro Taxes (fees, or whatever they call it).

"Fantasy Rail Thread (w/ maps)"

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I'd like to see the "purple line" extended further south to serve the Meyerland/Meyer Park areas, and then turn east at the intersection of S. Post Oak and Belfort, headed for Reliant Park.

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As far as the red line goes (since it seems to extend beyond the map), where will the northern terminus and the southern terminus be?

Northern terminus is IAH, and southern terminus could be Missouri City. Just guessing.

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What about running that Bellaire Blvd. line all the way out to Chinatown?

I would definitely say that's on the table, although I removed it from my map because I wasn't sure about ridership.

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I think a bellaire line would be among the most used in the city. The amount of apartments, Buildings, and neighborhoods along that path would make it ideal, problem is that that would have to be very high capacity to the point that it would easily need a 4 car train if we used the current system. The only thing that would be a deal killer is if the city of Bellaire would deny Metro a way through, which is a good possibility if I have good idea what their thoughts on the matter is.

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I think a bellaire line would be among the most used in the city. The amount of apartments, Buildings, and neighborhoods along that path would make it ideal, problem is that that would have to be very high capacity to the point that it would easily need a 4 car train if we used the current system. The only thing that would be a deal killer is if the city of Bellaire would deny Metro a way through, which is a good possibility if I have good idea what their thoughts on the matter is.

Well, if Bellaire wants to be like that, maybe connect it with the University line via Hillcroft?

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I could see a line going down Spencer Hwy all the way into LaPorte. That would be so nice one day. And make getting to work so much easier. Maybe it coudl terminate near the Local Airport or just beyond at Hwy 146 or it coudl turn south and head for The Kemah Waterfront. There is already an abonded rail line running that way so not much work would be needed.

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Well, if Bellaire wants to be like that, maybe connect it with the University line via Hillcroft?

That's a better idea in my opinion. A Hillcroft/Gulfton stop would have tremendous ridership. The problem is Hillcroft is probably already the worst frontage road intersection along the Southwest Freeway. Trains would somehow have to cross the freeway without using feeder space.

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If we do that, then the train is going to have to have higher capacity or the stations are going to have to be designed with 4 cars if we keep the current configuration. Many of those that ride on bellaire ultimately have cross town connections.

I'd like to know what the ridership ranking of that (and others) is compared to other routes.

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I just completed an errand by using Spur 5 and exited OST. I am sure today's perfect weather played a part with the point I am about to make however as I turned west on OST I could not help but think of this thread and about light rail running in the center of OST and all the possibilities that small stretch offers. Today by itself Mac Gregor Park looked phenomenal and would look even better with rail running down OST. Add some mixed use residential, retail and restaurant(s) development across the street and we got ourselves a pretty nice stretch where people can dine outside and have fun at the park. Just wanted to share my mini vacation for the day. Maybe UH can buy those properties as well and construct my dreams. Sigh

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It would helpful if the map was marked a bit more, as a map of the highways provide very little assistance to a non-Houston native. I could generally guess where some areas are, it's just the inner-city bits.

Where does the red line go? There's an abandoned ROW that parallels SH-288, is that it?

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=29....031929&z=15

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