ToryGattis

The Pierce Elevated/I-59 Redesign Thread

Pierce Skypark or Demolish Pierce Elevated?  

131 members have voted

  1. 1. Pierce Skypark or Demolish Pierce Elevated?

    • Pierce Skypark
      44
    • Demolish Pierce Elevated
      87


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1 hour ago, wilcal said:

I'll probably be able to go to the West/South one if any HAIFers want to say hi.  

 

I'll also try to make it to this one.

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3 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

Very exciting!   Thanks for the thorough report, wilcal.   Whose open house was this?

It was an open house that I only learned of from my rep (attached screenshot).

 

Also, it's hard to tell... is this schematic wilcal posted showing that Runnels St is actually going to connect to the new McKee St. and Elysian St intersection?

https://i.imgur.com/IMtlgqc.jpg

 

Edit: Oh ok, so it does look like they are maybe connecting Runnels St underneath the bridges but they still have a cul-de-sac before the railroad... so bizarre: https://i.imgur.com/VhbaXoJ.jpg

 

Edit 2: Where did the railroad go next the jail??

 

 

cisneros.JPG

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7 hours ago, wilcal said:

 

I feel that there's no easy way to go east/west into downtown. Anybody that is in the third or eado and wants to go to MMP/Market Square Park/etc is gonna have to deal with some awkwardness. The proposal evidently means sharrows on Capital/Texas where the light rail runs. Just a death trap dealing with traffic in that area on a bike with suburbanites trying to handle being in downtown. 

 

overall, this has been my main concern regarding this project.

 

I wish there was a way that Polk could still connect.

 

Well, I also have the same concerns as Intencity77, unfunded means it isn't happening. At least, not until someone comes out and says it's funded.

Edited by samagon

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31 minutes ago, samagon said:

 

overall, this has been my main concern regarding this project.

 

I wish there was a way that Polk could still connect.

 

Well, I also have the same concerns as Intencity77, unfunded means it isn't happening. At least, not until someone comes out and says it's funded.

Polk will still connect. Elevated bike/pedestrian only bridge has been added to the proposal. It'll be clear when the new renderings are on the planning site.

 

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7 hours ago, pablog said:

It is more than just a vision. I would say it is basically a close to done deal. When I suggested the cap park between Midtown/Third Ward, they responded that it is harder there because there aren’t any large companies making donations similar to the EaDo cap. That to me sounded like the cap park idea has received lots of investment from companies in Downtown. 

 

Also, they mentioned that the first phase of the project will be downtown because that is where the heaviest traffic is, and their goal is to finish construction 2026 for the downtown section. 

 

Northern sections will come later 

 

I had heard talk of Kinder Foundation being on board. The first speaker said that they wouldn't ask for any money until plans are finalized. 

 

The downtown district are the ones currently paying for these renderings, so I'd imagine they have a good idea what is feasible.

 

They did say that the entire green loop/everything on the map could feasibly take 20 years though.

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38 minutes ago, wilcal said:

Polk will still connect. Elevated bike/pedestrian only bridge has been added to the proposal. It'll be clear when the new renderings are on the planning site.

 

This is going to sound so houstonian of me and even as some who bikes all over the city, I think we need Polk to connect vehicle traffic. That area has quite a lot of traffic coming in and out of the convention center, hotels, and Toyota center. I'm sure the traffic will adapt since there will now be a u-turn that wraps back to the other side... Still wish there was a direct connect though. 

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10 hours ago, Triton said:

This is going to sound so houstonian of me and even as some who bikes all over the city, I think we need Polk to connect vehicle traffic. That area has quite a lot of traffic coming in and out of the convention center, hotels, and Toyota center. I'm sure the traffic will adapt since there will now be a u-turn that wraps back to the other side... Still wish there was a direct connect though. 

 

Yeah, I don't really get that either. Was talking with a random guy who bike commutes down Polk from somewhere in the East End and he said traffic can be pretty bad. Tons of buses. 

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Definitely appears to be a big update coming... It's hard to see but in this picture they've changed a few things here and there. For example, it looks like there will be feeder roads on both sides (both on the north and south sides) of the upcoming I-45 spur into downtown that will connect and stop at Houston Ave. Earlier, there were feeder lanes on both sides that then stayed to the north after Dallas St and stopped at Houston Ave.

 

They've also now added all the missing links to the Northside that I was worried about...from the Fulton/San Jacinto extension to a few new roads being built where I-10 once stood near UH-D.

 

Here's the before for the feeder lanes I was mentioning

 

I452.JPG

 

Updated (hard to see the changes)

 

IMG_8673-2-1200x800.jpg

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Tonight's meeting for the north side was well-attended. I arrived just as the main presentation was ending. COH staff said the meeting materials are online, but I can't find anything.

 

The big news to me was not related to the highway but was the proposed railroad consolidation. See the attached image link. (I was not aware of the railroad proposal until tonight.)

 

In short, the proposal is to combine the two east-west railroads into one corridor by building a new section of railroad from around Main street to Houston Street.

The railroad serving the Amtrack station and going through UHD would be abandoned. The railroad on the "Be Someone" bridge extending west would also be abandoned. The corridor of the "Be Someone" bridge would be replaced by a road for better neighborhood connectivity, which was listed as one of the three main objectives of COH planning. That new road appears to be part of the plan, regardless of whether or not the railroad relocation actually happens.

 

The benefits of the relocation are huge (see items 1 through 8), and the cost should be affordable. I'm thinking that just eliminating the railroad and the need to build a shoofly where the existing railroad crosses IH-10 east of Elysian could save $15-25 million, and maybe another $10 million for the elimination of a shoofly on the "Be Someone" bridge. As listed in bullet 5, the railroad removal would make the North Canal possible.

 

Another project in this area is the bypass canal for White Oak bayou. I think I may have heard about it previously, but it probably has a greater probability of being built post-Harvey.

 

http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/Houston/20180904-0013-2000.jpg

 

http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/Houston/20180904-0012-2560.jpg

Edited by MaxConcrete

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12 hours ago, MaxConcrete said:

Tonight's meeting for the north side was well-attended. I arrived just as the main presentation was ending. COH staff said the meeting materials are online, but I can't find anything.

 

The big news to me was not related to the highway but was the proposed railroad consolidation. See the attached image link. (I was not aware of the railroad proposal until tonight.)

 

In short, the proposal is to combine the two east-west railroads into one corridor by building a new section of railroad from around Main street to Houston Street.

The railroad serving the Amtrack station and going through UHD would be abandoned. The railroad on the "Be Someone" bridge extending west would also be abandoned. The corridor of the "Be Someone" bridge would be replaced by a road for better neighborhood connectivity, which was listed as one of the three main objectives of COH planning. That new road appears to be part of the plan, regardless of whether or not the railroad relocation actually happens.

 

The benefits of the relocation are huge (see items 1 through 8), and the cost should be affordable. I'm thinking that just eliminating the railroad and the need to build a shoofly where the existing railroad crosses IH-10 east of Elysian could save $15-25 million, and maybe another $10 million for the elimination of a shoofly on the "Be Someone" bridge. As listed in bullet 5, the railroad removal would make the North Canal possible.

 

Another project in this area is the bypass canal for White Oak bayou. I think I may have heard about it previously, but it probably has a greater probability of being built post-Harvey.

 

http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/Houston/20180904-0013-2000.jpg

 

http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/Houston/20180904-0012-2560.jpg

 

Ha! I must have seen you there then! 

 

Gotta say, this open house got me really excited about this project, especially the railroad removal proposal and the new Edwards bridge connection over to Burnett St.

 

44435094052_5ed341c4c7_h.jpg

North Houston Highway Improvement Project by Marc longoria, on Flickr

 

44435097912_48dcb35109_h.jpg

North Houston Highway Improvement Project by Marc longoria, on Flickr

 

44435099962_a9c74f6a96_h.jpg

North Houston Highway Improvement Project by Marc longoria, on Flickr

 

30614845418_1c5d101ff9_h.jpg

North Houston Highway Improvement Project by Marc longoria, on Flickr

 

White Oak Bayou area:

 

44435112702_2b11ee36c3_h.jpg

North Houston Highway Improvement Project by Marc longoria, on Flickr

 

29546883927_1818837797_h.jpg

North Houston Highway Improvement Project by Marc longoria, on Flickr

 

Massive new changes:

 

42675170260_0ff6842fbc_h.jpg

North Houston Highway Improvement Project by Marc longoria, on Flickr

 

Here are the big take-aways which I am sure I am missing a few:

 

  • Remove the UPRR railroad through north downtown and add that rail to the existing corridor north of UH-D. This would help against flooding since many sections would not longer need to be below grade for the railroad.
 
  • Move the Metro bus depot next to the new I-10/I-45 freeway to have better access to the highway and to also..
 
  • Build the North Canal. Out of all the proposals presented tonight, is the one that has funding after the bond passed. The Planning Commission said they want to get the design down first and want people's inputs on the design. They presented several previously proposed since the grand master plan back in 2002.
 
  • Build a new connecting bridge from Edwards St to Burnett St over White Oak Bayou.
 
  • Build a new connecting street from Bagby to Edwards past the future development at the former Post Office.
 
  • Remove the Amtrak station (obviously) since the railroad and Bagby St will replace it.
 
  • Build a below grade San Jacinto extension to connect to Fulton on the Northside.
 
  • Build many new bike trails and use the existing abandoned railroad crossing in Frostown as a bike/pedestrian bridge.
 
  • Build "Garden Bridges" at McKee Bridge and Hardy Bridge over I-10. These would have parks with trees and bike trails. If the railroad is removed, they will be able to add a new street/bridge at Wood St. and also make it a Garden Bridge.

 

 

You covered the meeting pretty well. Only thing to add is that most of these proposals so far do not have funding however after the bond passed, the canal has funding now but they are trying to figure out the best design and where to properly relocate the bus depot.

 

If the city is able to pull this off, especially with the below grade San Jacinto extension to Fulton, this can really provide huge benefits to this side of town and I can see a large wave of development coming to this area in the 2020s.

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I hope there's enough foresight that the new RR connection has ROW for triple- or quadruple-tracking to support future commuter service.

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26 minutes ago, Texasota said:

Wait, are they replacing the Amtrak station? The obvious location would be the Burnnett transit center.

Yes, but I dont remember a specific relocation spot specified. 

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But it's such an example of mid century brutalist architecture... 

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6 minutes ago, mollusk said:

But it's such an example of mid century brutalist architecture... 

How? 

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5 minutes ago, Triton said:

How? 

 

Well, it's a blocky concrete structure, albeit a bit small in scale for true brutalist.

 

Also, it was a tongue in cheek comment.  Somehow I doubt that station's going to get much preservationist love.

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7 minutes ago, mollusk said:

 

Well, it's a blocky concrete structure, albeit a bit small in scale for true brutalist.

 

Also, it was a tongue in cheek comment.  Somehow I doubt that station's going to get much preservationist love.

Oh the Amtrak station! Yes, completely agree. I'm all for preservation in this city but I wouldn't protest if they decided to demo that station. 

 

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2 minutes ago, cspwal said:

 

It looks like Burnett transit center; #3 on the map

http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/Houston/20180904-0013-2000.jpg

I totally missed that during the presentation. Great catch! 

 

I don't know what yall think but all these proposals seem absolutely great for the north side of downtown. They said this would take over 20 years to fully realize but if they can get even half of these proposals down to real construction projects, I would be very happy! 

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The great architect Frank Lloyd Wright

when ask of his opinion of Houston, 

he said Houston is like being in a

pinball machine _it's so different from

other cities. That's speak volumes

of the city's uniqueness. Houston

can proudly hold it's own with these

so called esthetic cities.

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It's more than a project - it's a renovation on a Haussmannian scale.

 

Triton: Removing previous discussion from this thread.

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Let's please remain civil. Everyone is entitled to having their own opinion, whether you agree with it or not.

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21 hours ago, Triton said:

 

Will the multiple smaller caps in Midtown have an effect on driver visibility? I'd hypothesize that going from darkness to blinding sun several times in quick succession may cause some degree of visual challenge that may result in an elevated accident risk, especially when the sun is at a certain angle.

 

Why not just have a single cap for Midtown instead of three caps and four independent bridges? A single transition zone would provide more safety for drivers and a single cap would provide even more recreational space.

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1 hour ago, Sparrow said:

 

Will the multiple smaller caps in Midtown have an effect on driver visibility? I'd hypothesize that going from darkness to blinding sun several times in quick succession may cause some degree of visual challenge that may result in an elevated accident risk, especially when the sun is at a certain angle.

 

Why not just have a single cap for Midtown instead of three caps and four independent bridges? A single transition zone would provide more safety for drivers and a single cap would provide even more recreational space.

 

My guess is that it has to do with ventilation requirements

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4 hours ago, corbs315 said:

 

Wow! the link for the midtown presentation is a trove of information and images! http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/nhhip/midtown/public-open-house-midtown.pdf

 

(if this has already been shared i apologize for my lack of attention to detail)

Oh yea! Can't wait for the other links to become available. It's pretty exciting to go through it all.

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Let's stay on topic here and keep back the trollish comments. Thanks.

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For what benefit?  Are they going to allow commercial development underneath it or something?  It seems like a park on the ground, would be superior in basically every way, to an elevated park that didnt have to be elevated.  Seems like they'd basically be having to maintain this giant structure long term just for the convenience of not having to cross streets to walk the length of the park, and giving up ease of access, interation between the park and the streetscape, etc.

Edited by JJxvi

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10 minutes ago, JJxvi said:

For what benefit?  Are they going to allow commercial development underneath it or something?  It seems like a park on the ground, would be superior in basically every way, to an elevated park that didnt have to be elevated.  Seems like they'd basically be having to maintain this giant structure long term just for the convenience of not having to cross streets to walk the length of the park, and giving up ease of access, interation between the park and the streetscape, etc.

 

Have you actually been to the HighLine?

 

The neighborhoods that it crosses have gradually adapted to it in some interesting ways. You have some businesses and buildings that have entrances at the level of the highline and in other instances some want to draw you off of it, so you can stop by and then get back on.

 

I'm for either demolition or reinvention of the elevated at this point. Honestly though, what matters at the end of the day is the execution, consistency, and agreement by all who will be affected by it.

 

I was encouraged by the precedent images. They are actually taking ques and learning from those who have done these types of things before which means we will get at least something similar or its a launching point for something better.

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On the visionary plan, to me, it looks like an elevated Bike/walkway, much like as envisioned on the ease side cap, and not a preserved Pierce Elevated. 

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I have not been to the High Line, but I know Houston, and also know enough to know that downtown Houston is also not Manhattan.  I understand the potential, but the highline is 3 or 4 times as long as the maximum possible distance here and its not like theres destinations nearby.  I could be convinced if maybe there was at least something at one end or the other of the pierce that people would want to walk to, so it would continue to be a transportation benefit. A park? I'd want it on the ground, then existing real estate doesnt have to interact with it in new and creative ways to begin with.

Edited by JJxvi
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Thing about the High Line is that it is functional as the best and fastest way to get from Hudson Yards to Greenwich Village, on foot. Given the lack of direct subway connections, it's arguably the best way altogether.

 

It's not beloved simply because it's pretty - it's both pretty and useful.

 

Converting the Pierce would just get you from one side of Midtown to another. It wouldn't serve any real purpose that isn't already largely served by other modes, better.

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I’m 100% for the elevated park on the Pierce. It’s not like New York trademarked the idea of an “elevated park”, so the “Houston is not Manhattan” arguement is useless. Cities copy each other in many ways, even Houston, it’s what they do. The EaDo park cap idea has been said and done years ago in Dallas. Should that also not be built because another city has already built a freeway park cap? Nonsense! 

 

As for destinations, it’s in the middle of Downtown and Midtown, two of the most thriving, upcoming districts in the city. More destinations will come along as time goes by. You have to have some long term vision. Just as those who built the Convention Center and Minute Maid Park did in the most desolate part of Downtown at the time. Now look at that area. It’s one of the hottest parts of town. 

 

A long, ground level park along the former Pierce Elevated would be an incredibly awful idea IMO as it would be bisected by way too many cross streets, interfering with the overall park experience. Having the park elevated would provide a continuous, non vehicular experience for the park user. Not to mention much better views of surrounding and future buildings nearby.

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Do both. Make the former Pierce land become several block wide, individual, ground level parks and then connect all the individual parks with skinny, light pedestrian/bike bridges. Don't keep the giant, wide cement structure that was formally the Pierce and put a park on top. 

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10 minutes ago, Reporter said:

Do both. Make the former Pierce land become several block wide, individual, ground level parks and then connect all the individual parks with skinny, light pedestrian/bike bridges. Don't keep the giant, wide cement structure that was formally the Pierce and put a park on top. 

Wouldn't that involve people having to climb or bike ~ two stories up to a bridge over streets, then the same distance down again on every block?
That seems like an expensive and inconvenient solution to the problem.
edit: Also, the Pierce wouldn't have to remain at its full width for the entire length of the park. In fact, it would be a more attractive design to have narrower paths opening up into wider 'rooms' dedicated to whatever activities might take place there. Also, this would allow for stairways and elevators to be more easily incorporated into the design.

 

Edited by dbigtex56
added info

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No. It's brilliant. Make each bridge be a slope. The bridges would be at ground level somewhere in the middle of each block and gradually rise to become overpasses over the street. People could still cross the street at ground level too. But bikers, joggers and walkers would be able to do their thing without having to deal with the traffic at every crossing. It would look like little hills on a roller coaster.

 

Inconvenient? Not for the bikers, joggers and walkers going over it, or the cars going under it. The extra amount of energy it would take to gradually climb each hill would be great exercise. 

 

Expensive? Who cares. Just get some rich sucker who needs a tax dodge to pay for it along with the other parks built over the freeways. What's another few million dollars to a plan already this ambitious?

 

Edited by bachanon
Removing abusive language.

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3 hours ago, JJxvi said:

For what benefit?  Are they going to allow commercial development underneath it or something?  It seems like a park on the ground, would be superior in basically every way, to an elevated park that didnt have to be elevated.  Seems like they'd basically be having to maintain this giant structure long term just for the convenience of not having to cross streets to walk the length of the park, and giving up ease of access, interation between the park and the streetscape, etc.

 

23 hours ago, Luminare said:

http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/nhhip/east/public-meeting-east-side.pdf

 

From this presentation. Looks like they plan to keep the elevated and turn it into a highline.

 

I was at the East End meeting and asked about this (and posted a page or two back).

 

At this point, they don't know if they are going to keep it elevated or not. 

 

They are planning on doing commercial development below and even "around it" if the right client came about. You could have buildings almost integrated into/around it. 

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2 hours ago, ADCS said:

Converting the Pierce would just get you from one side of Midtown to another. It wouldn't serve any real purpose that isn't already largely served by other modes, better.

 

 

It would be 1/4 of the "green ring" around downtown. 

 

The idea is to build hike/bike trails that would have as few as 10 street crossings to go all of the way around downtown. 

 

They would also build a park on the east side of 59 that the pierce park would dump into. 

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10 minutes ago, Reporter said:

It would look like little hills on a roller coaster.

Picture how wide a block is, then picture how high the Pierce Elevated is. Your plan is better suited for a roller coaster than for actual cyclists, joggers, or pedestrians. 

 

13 minutes ago, Reporter said:

The extra amount of energy it would take to gradually climb each hill would be great exercise for those fatties, so they shouldn't mind.

From your exuberance, gauche remarks, and dismissal of practical concerns, I have to assume you're very young.
You're not going to be a teenager forever, dear. Ideally a park should be accessible to all and not just whippersnappers. Consider also the ADA; those who implement the plans will be required to make it handicapped accessible.

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3 minutes ago, Reporter said:

So that's why you're always so angry. :lol:

No. That would be Hedwig.
I'm not angry, nor am I many of the traits you attribute to me. Just pointing out that daydreams are fine, but there are practical considerations which remain firmly in the box (such as geometry and price tags).

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I'm not putting on my jogging suit anytime soon to run along the roller coaster bridges where the Pierce Elevated one stood but I don't think it's any more far fetched than some of the ideas in the renderings of the (proposed) park area around Minute Maid. What's that little orange band that looks like some kind of high tech bike path swirling around the parks anyway?

 

Price tags: I agree, everybody's cheap and I get it. They built a park over a freeway in Dallas. It wasn't cheap but they did it. Donors with a vision, wasn't it?  They are proposing to do the same thing in Houston and it won't be cheap. Things like this are possible. Maybe not likely, but possible.

 

Geometry isn't really an huge obstacle here. It might require a little 'creative geometry'. Maybe angling or curving the bridges so they aren't strait lines. Possibly raising the elevation of the center of the parks so that the grade isn't too steep. Maybe not even putting the low parts of the bridges in the middle. There's more than one way to build a bridge.

 

Also, no one would be forced to use them. Some pedestrians might still want to or have to cross at street level. My roller coaster bridges aren't going stop anyone from hurling themselves into moving traffic.

 

Now gauche this!

 

 

Screen.png

Edited by Reporter

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22 minutes ago, Reporter said:

I'm not putting on my jogging suit anytime soon to run along the roller coaster bridges where the Pierce Elevated one stood but I don't think it's any more far fetched than some of the ideas in the renderings of the (proposed) park area around Minute Maid. What's that little orange band that looks like some kind of high tech bike path swirling around the parks anyway?

 

Price tags: I agree, everybody's cheap and I get it. They built a park over a freeway in Dallas. It wasn't cheap but they did it. Donors with a vision, wasn't it?  They are proposing to do the same thing in Houston and it won't be cheap. Things like this are possible. Maybe not likely, but possible.

 

Geometry isn't really an huge obstacle here. It might require a little 'creative geometry'. Maybe angling or curving the bridges so they aren't strait lines. Possibly raising the elevation of the center of the parks so that the grade isn't too steep. Maybe not even putting the low parts of the bridges in the middle. There's more than one way to build a bridge.

 

Also, no one would be forced to use them. Some pedestrians might still want to or have to cross at street level. My roller coaster bridges aren't going stop anyone from hurling themselves into moving traffic.

 

Now gauche this!

 

 

Screen.png

Yeah I don't understand why people are fitting in details that aren't there yet into a project that is still at the conceptual. Thats missing the point. The point is to get as many people on board the same vision. Thats what these meetings and visuals are for.

 

In my time in architecture and from being a student of architecture history, anything is possible given enough money, and time. Literally anything pretty much possible if you have those too. A project of this magnitude is going to be a fixture for decades of this city and while the city has fallen short sometimes in the past, when it comes to big ideas...this town has always slapped the money down to do it. Thats been the cities forte. If you have the resources and will then this town is your oyster.

 

EDIT: Along with all of this. What you said Reporter should once again be restated. NONE of the things that has been shown in these illustrations is out of the realm of possibility. In fact, has nobody been paying attention to the "Precedent Images". Thats what they are for. They literally should tell even the most skeptical, hey this has been done before and we believe the same can be done here.

Edited by Luminare

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