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The Pierce Elevated/I-59 Redesign Thread

Pierce Skypark or Demolish Pierce Elevated?  

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  1. 1. Pierce Skypark or Demolish Pierce Elevated?

    • Pierce Skypark
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    • Demolish Pierce Elevated
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In terms of redesigning the Pierce Elevated, I thought about "working around what we have", since it's going to (and SHOULD) be here for a long time. One thing I thought was building a Galleria-like skylight around the elevated portion to reduce visual blight as well as having a semi-enclosed area for cars to drive on in inclement weather.

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In terms of redesigning the Pierce Elevated, I thought about "working around what we have", since it's going to (and SHOULD) be here for a long time. One thing I thought was building a Galleria-like skylight around the elevated portion to reduce visual blight as well as having a semi-enclosed area for cars to drive on in inclement weather.

 

Adding a sky light enclosure over a freeway essentially turns it into an elevated tunnel.

So you have the downsides (such as reduced access of emergency vehicles like Life flight) of a tunnel w/ the blight of an elevated freeway. Literally, the worst of both worlds (I say that with all due respect). Remember, the Pierce elevated already suffers from skinny shoulders that don't allow for emergency vehicle to drive along.

 

Although, I wouldn't mind seeing that in a conceptualization. Would be pretty cool looking actually.

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Adding a sky light enclosure over a freeway essentially turns it into an elevated tunnel.

So you have the downsides (such as reduced access of emergency vehicles like Life flight) of a tunnel w/ the blight of an elevated freeway. Literally, the worst of both worlds (I say that with all due respect). Remember, the Pierce elevated already suffers from skinny shoulders that don't allow for emergency vehicle to drive along.

 

Although, I wouldn't mind seeing that in a conceptualization. Would be pretty cool looking actually.

Yeah, I did draw a pretty rough sketch of it (which I may or may not scan and show) but it is just a concept. Most concepts tend to put "does it look cool and pretty" in front of "would it be practical and feasible" of which my concept would be of the former.

I think that when they rebuilt that McDonald's in late 2013 they should've razed it entirely and kept that block as a park, something to make the transition from Midtown to Downtown less intimidating and more welcoming.

The real trick is trying to think of an acceptable solution that wouldn't necessitate tearing down the existing freeway.

So anyone get any real ideas?

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No worries.  Moved to the new Pierce Elevated Redesign Thread, merged from a couple of older topics.

Mate I think you might've moved one too many. My post up there is so far off from this discussion you might as well delete that one and this.

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I don't think they should've rebuilt Pierce in the late 1990s, should've done it in the late 2000s, taking out the rest of the block and making it depressed, similar to the 59 rebuild. Of course this means the light rail would've been closed for some time, and that the whole thing would be unusable in a flood...

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How can I like this comment more. I 100% agree. TxDOT is served by poor engineers. I'm sorry. Most work is done for the lowest cost to a contractor. You get what you pay for. I went to the November public meeting. To say that I was 'unimpressed' by the 'engineers' that presented this information is like saying that WW2 was a 'difference of opinion between us and Germany+Japan'.

 

I put in a public comment that expressed your view after the November TxDOT meeting about this. Here's the thing, all of TxDOT's alternatives that they presented have not been costed out yet. That's right. They've eliminated all the original ideas without taking cost into account. So saying that tunneling isn't desirable has no bearing in reality other than they don't want to do it. They didn't cost it. They seriously don't have the expertise or the contractual resources to look at it so they just say that its not doable.

What else is ridiculous is their spreadsheet showing 'Pros' and 'cons' of the alternatives they did present. They just give it an arbitrary 'Desirable', 'Undesirable', or 'Neutral'. Seriously?! WTF. That's the engineering equivalent of pulling stuff out of your a$$. If I tried to present that at project meeting without any data to back it up, I'd get laughed out of the room.

 

http://www.ih45northandmore.com/docs3/I-45%20Segment%203%20Renderings_Final.pdf

http://www.ih45northandmore.com/docs3/NHHIP%20Secondary%20Screening%20Matrix%20Draft%2012-19-13.pdf

 

Thanks for posing the links to the study recap.  Very interesting reading.  They didn’t consider my favorite idea, which is to tear down the Pierce Elevated altogether.  The “Identified Reasonable Alternatives” are

-          Widen the existing road (predictably enough)

-          Realign 45 along 59 and convert the Pierce section into a parkway/boulevard

-          Modified directionality with northbound traffic on 59 and southbound on existing Pierce 

 

To me the idea of widening it sounds like an absolute nightmare.  It is already dangerous enough with the left exits for Allen Parkway and McKinney.  Just adding more and more lanes on the Pierce is ultimately a fool’s game; but I’m afraid that kind of solution is so deeply ingrained it will be hard to ever move beyond it.  They at least don’t rule out the boulevard concept, although it’s probably too radical (and simple) an idea to make the final cut.

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Thanks for posing the links to the study recap.  Very interesting reading.  They didn’t consider my favorite idea, which is to tear down the Pierce Elevated altogether.  The “Identified Reasonable Alternatives” are

-          Widen the existing road (predictably enough)

-          Realign 45 along 59 and convert the Pierce section into a parkway/boulevard

-          Modified directionality with northbound traffic on 59 and southbound on existing Pierce 

 

To me the idea of widening it sounds like an absolute nightmare.  It is already dangerous enough with the left exits for Allen Parkway and McKinney.  Just adding more and more lanes on the Pierce is ultimately a fool’s game; but I’m afraid that kind of solution is so deeply ingrained it will be hard to ever move beyond it.  They at least don’t rule out the boulevard concept, although it’s probably too radical (and simple) an idea to make the final cut.

 

TxDOT isn't doing their job unless their answer to the problem at hand is acquiring ROW and adding lanes....

 

 

Oh and tolling said lanes.

Edited by DNAguy

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Thanks for posing the links to the study recap.  Very interesting reading.  They didn’t consider my favorite idea, which is to tear down the Pierce Elevated altogether.  The “Identified Reasonable Alternatives” are

-          Widen the existing road (predictably enough)

-          Realign 45 along 59 and convert the Pierce section into a parkway/boulevard

-          Modified directionality with northbound traffic on 59 and southbound on existing Pierce 

 

To me the idea of widening it sounds like an absolute nightmare.  It is already dangerous enough with the left exits for Allen Parkway and McKinney.  Just adding more and more lanes on the Pierce is ultimately a fool’s game; but I’m afraid that kind of solution is so deeply ingrained it will be hard to ever move beyond it.  They at least don’t rule out the boulevard concept, although it’s probably too radical (and simple) an idea to make the final cut.

 

Luckily we still have the time to change it. From what I saw just adding more lanes is actually not the favorite concept. Adding more lanes never solves the problem. Looking at the option for moving 45 to 59 they have plenty of room to do it and they have plenty of room to trench it. Got tied up with some stuff at work, but I'm working on some sketches and then maybe a sketchup model to show the general idea.

 

As for the Boulevard I don't even know if we should do that either. Lets just simply reconnect the existing roads. Then turn those blocks into a greenbelt or more of a pedestrian promenade. This way TxDOT doesn't have to spend money building a new boulevard. Then they can sell all that ROW back to the city to help recover the costs. 

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As for the Boulevard I don't even know if we should do that either. Lets just simply reconnect the existing roads. Then turn those blocks into a greenbelt or more of a pedestrian promenade. This way TxDOT doesn't have to spend money building a new boulevard. Then they can sell all that ROW back to the city to help recover the costs.

I think that Pierce already allows through traffic and solid blocks underneath it.

If the Lofts at the Ballpark and the whole BBVA Compass Park thing hadn't been built, it would be a more viable idea to route at least some lanes that way.

Perhaps...paralleling the railroad at EaDo a truck loop. That might keep the largest and most damaging vehicles off the Pierce Elevated.

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Luckily we still have the time to change it. From what I saw just adding more lanes is actually not the favorite concept. Adding more lanes never solves the problem. Looking at the option for moving 45 to 59 they have plenty of room to do it and they have plenty of room to trench it. Got tied up with some stuff at work, but I'm working on some sketches and then maybe a sketchup model to show the general idea.

 

As for the Boulevard I don't even know if we should do that either. Lets just simply reconnect the existing roads. Then turn those blocks into a greenbelt or more of a pedestrian promenade. This way TxDOT doesn't have to spend money building a new boulevard. Then they can sell all that ROW back to the city to help recover the costs. 

 

As in the previous cases, I agree. However, getting rid of a freeway will already cause a fire storm. This is Houston. People think more lanes = better traffic.

 

An option kind of middle road option is what I proposed b/f: Instead of a blvd, I think you can tie Houston ave to the depressed section of 45 (the part that goes under W Dallas) and then tie the depress section back into St. Joseph's parkway / Pierce street. This accomplishes the same result as a parkway and it uses existing streets. And it's possible to get a nice signature bridge over BB that's right next to downtown! Heck, maybe even cap that section of depressed freeway w/ some green space!

 

The problem w/ the selling the ROW back to the city / developers is that (from my understanding) TxDOT's process doesn't have a way of capturing that in the costing of a project. So while we intuitively know that getting rid of the Pierce elevated would free up land to sell or that the properties close to the PE section would be more valuable w/out it, there is no value capture that is taken into account when grading / costing / vetting these options.

 

The traffic on the Pierce doesn't come from lack of lanes. I don't know how txdot doesn't see this. It comes b/c everyone on the Pierce elevated aren't staying on 45. Hear me out. If you're SB on the Pierce, most people aren't going to stay on 45 toward Galveston. Most people are actually trying to go to 288 south / 59 south. If you're NB on the Pierce, people are most likely going to get on I10 west. So the issue isn't really lanes at all, its the CONNECTIONS w/ the other freeways in the area. Re-routing along I-10 and 59 makes a lot of sense b/c of this. Having straight aways merging with longer site lines from freeway to another helps the merging of traffic / reduces back ups / reduces congestion.

 

The issue comes down to the fact that west downtown has less direct access to 45 (and subsequently I10) if we get rid of the downtown section of 45. Even though north downtown has direct access to both freeways, people will resist the removal of the freeway b/c it will take them 10 minutes longer to get home by having to travel 8 blocks north on the downtown grid rather than 3 blocks west. for those 10 minutes, people are willing to put up w/ a less overall efficient and uglier freeway option that costs us more and cuts off downtown from the gem of Buffalo Bayou park.

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If we routed it down 59/10 there'll be more traffic on that section unless you wanted to widen that area. Texas Avenue and 59 has the tightest ROW unless you want to take out the Lofts at the Ballpark (one of the buildings) or if you wanted to double-deck the highway entirely. As for lanes, notice that north of downtown I-45 has four lanes, south of downtown I-45 has four lanes, but Pierce Elevated only has three.

The problem with getting rid of the Pierce Elevated is that a partial reconstruction was done in 1997 and like the short-lived five-stack at Beltway 8 and Interstate 10 it's not recommended to dismantle things that aren't at the end of their functional lifespan (other freeway removals, conversely, were). Making walking under it safe and attractive should be the first thing focused on. The second thing is rerouting trucks to another path, though the problem is Interstate 10 on the north side is curvier and fewer sight lines. Plus, trucks would have to also navigate two exits.

If dedicated truck bypass lanes were built along Interstate 10 and 59, that might solve part of Pierce's problems without destroying ROW or infrastructure.

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I've always thought that most highways in Houston should at least have a dedicated lane for trucks/semi's. The lane closest to the barrier is for speedy traffic/passing. The lane next to that would be constant speed. The lane next to that would be trucks/ semi's and buses and then a lane that is for getting on and off the freeway. What causes the most traffic are large trucks and while they are valuable to the economy they do cause a massive amounts of traffic.

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If we routed it down 59/10 there'll be more traffic on that section unless you wanted to widen that area. Texas Avenue and 59 has the tightest ROW unless you want to take out the Lofts at the Ballpark (one of the buildings) or if you wanted to double-deck the highway entirely. As for lanes, notice that north of downtown I-45 has four lanes, south of downtown I-45 has four lanes, but Pierce Elevated only has three.

The problem with getting rid of the Pierce Elevated is that a partial reconstruction was done in 1997 and like the short-lived five-stack at Beltway 8 and Interstate 10 it's not recommended to dismantle things that aren't at the end of their functional lifespan (other freeway removals, conversely, were). Making walking under it safe and attractive should be the first thing focused on. The second thing is rerouting trucks to another path, though the problem is Interstate 10 on the north side is curvier and fewer sight lines. Plus, trucks would have to also navigate two exits.

If dedicated truck bypass lanes were built along Interstate 10 and 59, that might solve part of Pierce's problems without destroying ROW or infrastructure.

 

If the issue is that we shouldn't dismantle things until they've reached the end of life, then we probably don't need to go through the exercise of the 45 project at all. However, that prevents us fro making almost all the freeways in Houston better due to the fact that almost all highways have been redesigned since the 90's and we get roughly 50 years out of them (right?). 

 

I'm not a fan of truck bypasses. I get the idea of them but I don't see it as really enforceable. If you have to police them, you don't help traffic b/c the sight of a police car increases congestion. Just the sight. Crazy. I also don't really think it'll do much to relieve congestion.

 

The 45 along 59 idea as TxDOT presented it sucks. It's almost as if they were late turning in their homework and thought something was better than nothing at all. I understand your objection. I object to it as well. But if done right, it can be very beneficial. From the 45/59 intersection to Polk, TxDOt has a full block-wide of ROW to work with. After Polk, you're right, the ROW is tight. You can work with this by doing 3 things:

1.) Trench 59 up to Franklin

2.) Cut Chartes to 2 lanes and / or have it overhang the trench

3.) Deck 45 over the trench

 

After Franklin, the 45 deck would have to split to the east and west side of the 59 elevated freeway. Additional ROW would have to be acquired there. So the section of low income housing project on the bayou west of West Dr would have to be purchased as well as the Star of Hope on the west side of 59. Both of those actions would be a tight rope act of politics.

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Part of the problem about 10 is that yeah, they could theoretically fit it in without ROW demolitions, but it leaves no room for exit/entrance lanes (especially since Elysian Street Viaduct is getting rebuilt due to the Hardy Toll Road expansion) on either highway. You could probably due with hacking out the blocks south of Interstate 10 (opposite Saint Arnold), but that seems a bit extreme, unless they wanted to end up redoing that highway network.

Alternately, they could build another elevated highway along the railroad at EaDO with four lanes (just four) but that would mess things up as well.

The most extreme thing to do would be terminate the Interstate 45 designation right there where it interfaces with Interstate 10 and rebadge the Gulf Freeway as Texas State Highway 87, which would free up I-45's Interstate designations by avoiding standards.

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I dunno.  As it is, 59/69 southbound past downtown and through the 288 split seems to be a parking lot pretty much any time of the day.  As far as how to get onto 59/69, it may make more sense to use the North Loop, keeping the portion through the Northside down to some point around downtown as a spur.  Using the 10 corridor would end up with a lot of relatively tight curves one right after the other, with a concurrent opportunity for mayhem.

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Is doing anything about the Pierce Elevated really a big deal? Yeah, it seems kind of narrow and yeah it is a "dividing barrier" between Midtown and Downtown, and it is in a uncomfortable situation--not even the 1997 re-do did TxDOT have the heart to widen it (if TxDOT was personified), but tearing it down seems more of an idealistic vision (something found in renderings) rather than think about any real-world consequences.

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But if we were on the topic of imagination, one thing I thought of was to leave the Pierce Elevated as is (structure wise), then depress the other side of those blocks (taking out buildings, I know), resulting in a sort of "hanging gardens" type freeway with one side elevated and one depressed. The existing Pierce would be reworked to include (from west to east), an inner lane, four main lanes, an outer lane, and a pedestrian promenade area that would include marked bike lanes that would link Buffalo Bayou, Downtown, and EaDo all together.

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Is there one bridge on earth that's attractive to walk under?

 

The New River Gorge bridge in West Virginia ain't bad.

 

800px-New_River_Gorge_Bridge.jpg

 

With 876 feet of clearance, Williams Tower would almost fit underneath.

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I've always thought that most highways in Houston should at least have a dedicated lane for trucks/semi's. The lane closest to the barrier is for speedy traffic/passing. The lane next to that would be constant speed. The lane next to that would be trucks/ semi's and buses and then a lane that is for getting on and off the freeway. What causes the most traffic are large trucks and while they are valuable to the economy they do cause a massive amounts of traffic.

The normal laws of driving don't really apply to Houston though.

"Inside lane is for the fast drivers? Nah they can just go around me"

Also every truck driver loses any ability to drive and follow the traffic pattern once they're inside Harris County. It's ridiculous. 

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I dunno.  As it is, 59/69 southbound past downtown and through the 288 split seems to be a parking lot pretty much any time of the day.  As far as how to get onto 59/69, it may make more sense to use the North Loop, keeping the portion through the Northside down to some point around downtown as a spur.  Using the 10 corridor would end up with a lot of relatively tight curves one right after the other, with a concurrent opportunity for mayhem.

 

I like where your head's at. However, I think you run into problems with the directing the 'regular' through traffic of 45 into the industrial part of Houston. Lots of trucks from 59 to 45 south on 610. Plus you have a large bridge. And the 610 / 225 / 45 area is already loaded up with lands that end and merge in a way that would only add to the nightmare that it is today. 

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I dunno.  As it is, 59/69 southbound past downtown and through the 288 split seems to be a parking lot pretty much any time of the day.  As far as how to get onto 59/69, it may make more sense to use the North Loop, keeping the portion through the Northside down to some point around downtown as a spur.  Using the 10 corridor would end up with a lot of relatively tight curves one right after the other, with a concurrent opportunity for mayhem.

 

One thing I've come to realize is that when you get rid of a bottle neck in a system, you expose / exacerbate other bottle necks. If this prevents you from fixing a known problem (b/c you know that'll you'll just run into another problem down / upstream), then you in a paralyzed state where nothing gets down.

 

No doubt that 59/288 interchange needs to be fixed. By fixing the 45/59 interchange, you're actually incentivising the earlier action.

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I know that TxDOT doesn't own the ROW, but why didn't they look into routing 45 from 610 to DT along what will be the Hardy DT connector? You then route it along 59 from I10 to 45 south.

 

The current section of I 45 now becomes I145.

 

Would there be enough ROW? Do the laws permit a swap between HCTRA and TxDOT so that I145 or some spur designation could be tolled? I'm curious if this could actually work.

 

 

 

 

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I like where your head's at. However, I think you run into problems with the directing the 'regular' through traffic of 45 into the industrial part of Houston. Lots of trucks from 59 to 45 south on 610. Plus you have a large bridge. And the 610 / 225 / 45 area is already loaded up with lands that end and merge in a way that would only add to the nightmare that it is today. 

 

 

One thing I've come to realize is that when you get rid of a bottle neck in a system, you expose / exacerbate other bottle necks. If this prevents you from fixing a known problem (b/c you know that'll you'll just run into another problem down / upstream), then you in a paralyzed state where nothing gets down.

 

No doubt that 59/288 interchange needs to be fixed. By fixing the 45/59 interchange, you're actually incentivising the earlier action.

 

Y'all illustrate my point.  How do you reroute eight or ten lanes of traffic over to an already overloaded eight lane route, not to mention adding the weaving of spinning 45 into and out of it?  Culberson's skin mag dream, a/k/a the Katy outside the Loop, would look like a country path in comparison.

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One thing I've come to realize is that when you get rid of a bottle neck in a system, you expose / exacerbate other bottle necks. If this prevents you from fixing a known problem (b/c you know that'll you'll just run into another problem down / upstream), then you in a paralyzed state where nothing gets down.

No doubt that 59/288 interchange needs to be fixed. By fixing the 45/59 interchange, you're actually incentivising the earlier action.

What you're describing is known as the theory of constraints. It's a very well-known manufacturing methodology that identifies why output of a production line does not achieve it's maximum throughput. It applies well to mobility.

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What you're describing is known as the theory of constraints. It's a very well-known manufacturing methodology that identifies why output of a production line does not achieve it's maximum throughput. It applies well to mobility.

 

If it's so well known as a manufacturing methodology, why did I have to re-invent it 30 years later? :P

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Umm I'm sure some one has thought of this, but you could just shift the highway a little bit northwest once you get past the convention center which would give you more ROW and not have to do anything with the lofts. The only thing between 59 for a long way off after that is just empty surface lots till the bayou. Sadly I can't seem to get to a point where I can work on my real plan for this :(

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If it's so well known as a manufacturing methodology, why did I have to re-invent it 30 years later? :P

And for my next discovery, a little something I call...gravity! :)

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And for my next discovery, a little something I call...gravity! :)

 

Everyone knows that's totes been done, like, forever ago  <_< ......

 

0.jpg

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I suppose one way to really test any "Pierce Removal" ideas is to just close off the Pierce Elevated completely for a trial period of 3 months, which could swing either way for removal or not.

 

The trick would be convincing people what the real purpose is for: a "test to see what would happen if we removed the Pierce" has all sorts of negative connotations, no one will buy "maintenance" that would require total closure for months, and the most likely explanation is that TxDOT is doing it as some sort of cruel prank. Which is why they shouldn't do it at all.

So here's my proposal...Behold! The "hanging gardens"! A combination elevated/sunken highway with tons of greenery, four lanes each direction, and even a wide/pedestrian lane. Of course, some buildings will have to come down...

haif_pierce.jpeg

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I suppose one way to really test any "Pierce Removal" ideas is to just close off the Pierce Elevated completely for a trial period of 3 months, which could swing either way for removal or not.

The trick would be convincing people what the real purpose is for: a "test to see what would happen if we removed the Pierce" has all sorts of negative connotations, no one will buy "maintenance" that would require total closure for months, and the most likely explanation is that TxDOT is doing it as some sort of cruel prank. Which is why they shouldn't do it at all.

So here's my proposal...Behold! The "hanging gardens"! A combination elevated/sunken highway with tons of greenery, four lanes each direction, and even a wide/pedestrian lane. Of course, some buildings will have to come down...

haif_pierce.jpeg

I would be ok with that test period

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Maybe we could get Gov Chris Christie down to execute the plan...over night. ;-)

Yes, it would be very illegal...and there's already enough politicians and others working to manipulate the law behind closed doors.

I like my "hanging gardens" idea nonetheless.

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I like the hanging gardens idea. Makes me think of other beautification ideas for overpasses and raised highways. Since they have become one of our few landscape features...make em look good if not convert them into parklands.

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Rather than closing a major highway for 3 months to determine the impact, I would suggest that it might be less invasive to have traffic engineers study the potential impact and provide a report on the expected results.

I know that's crazy talk, but...

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Well, in another thread, I proposed tunneling new southbound lanes under the Pierce while fixing up the Pierce (better lighting, perhaps a bike path, inner shoulders), because part of the problem is gridlock. It also keeps the infrastructure.

 

The most dangerous suggestion on that page (et. al.) is the land values bit. Now, I'm denying if land values will raise if the Pierce is torn down, but betting on land values like that is a risky move...just ask Six Flags. That "highly valuable land" is still empty nearly a decade later even during a boom!

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You can't really compare that enormous piece of dirt in a sea of parking in the middle of nowhere to land which is in the middle of the city, on the bayou, near the theater district, etc... Sorry but not even going to give you ground on that one.

 

What I think they should do is do the full reroute, and trench both of them. There is is plenty of room to do this and you benefit both sides of the city. I've been wanting to get back to work on my idea for this huge reroute, but just haven't had the time :/

 

The silliest thing they can do is keep it where it is and add to it. Of course the robots at TxDot are going to push that option pretty hard because...reasons? -.-

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You can't really compare that enormous piece of dirt in a sea of parking in the middle of nowhere to land which is in the middle of the city, on the bayou, near the theater district, etc... Sorry but not even going to give you ground on that one.

 

What I think they should do is do the full reroute, and trench both of them. There is is plenty of room to do this and you benefit both sides of the city. I've been wanting to get back to work on my idea for this huge reroute, but just haven't had the time :/

 

The silliest thing they can do is keep it where it is and add to it. Of course the robots at TxDot are going to push that option pretty hard because...reasons? -.-

They said it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to "re-connect the neighborhoods". Yet every option in that link show everything BUT connecting the surrounding neighborhoods. I don't get the parkway idea either. It will go from an elevated freeway to a ground freeway with trees? Or will it become connected to the street with traffic lights?

 

Luminare, please use your Illuminati/Freemason abilities to stop this atrocity. Surely they can stop the funneling of money from the FEMA coffins for a month and help this dire situation out.

 

I'm only halfway kidding, I've wanted to use an Illuminati conspiracy joke on you since day one. But I am not kidding about the options they show for re-design.

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I'm assuming that tunneling isn't an option due to cost.  

 

Removing it entirely and widening I-10 and US59 is an interesting idea. 

 

Realistically I don't see anything happening for the foreseeable future.  

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Sorry, but Montrose's right. There's a disproportionate amount of idealism vs. practicality in the Pierce Elevated threads, and a widened parkway/boulevard will still divide the neighborhoods all while wasting money on the late 1990s rebuild and dismantling it (plus adding capacity to try to fix that), not to mention the service interruptions on METRORail while all that is done. The only way that I could see a proposal like that working is waiting another 20 years to put Pierce up for replacement or making a local Harris County/Houston agency foot a good part of the bill.

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I'm assuming that tunneling isn't an option due to cost.  

 

Removing it entirely and widening I-10 and US59 is an interesting idea. 

 

Realistically I don't see anything happening for the foreseeable future.  

 

Well of course it won't be in the foreseeable future. Right now they are just doing meetings with citizens to discuss these proposals. These aren't even really set in stone. It just helps TxDot know what they will end up doing down the road. The portions of 45 inside loop 610 though are approaching 35-40 years old! I'll be trying to make the next meeting which is later this year. I'm sure whatever is the final decision it won't get underway for another 3-4 years. Lots of time for further input!

Edited by Luminare

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They said it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to "re-connect the neighborhoods". Yet every option in that link show everything BUT connecting the surrounding neighborhoods. I don't get the parkway idea either. It will go from an elevated freeway to a ground freeway with trees? Or will it become connected to the street with traffic lights?

Luminare, please use your Illuminati/Freemason abilities to stop this atrocity. Surely they can stop the funneling of money from the FEMA coffins for a month and help this dire situation out.

I'm only halfway kidding, I've wanted to use an Illuminati conspiracy joke on you since day one. But I am not kidding about the options they show for re-design.

The parkway idea as they drew it up leaves more questions than answers.

What I dont understand is the need for a parkway on the southside of downtown. The only area that would need something like a parkway is the west side of downtown. You can repurpose the 45 row on the west side of downtown as the parkway and then tie into the existing street grid. The St Joseph parkway is of sufficient width to handle the traffic. Then you sell / repurpose the ROW to recover some of the great costs that this is going to take.

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Why is the growth that has happened in midtown so much more important than the growth that is happening to the east of downtown, or the growth that is poised to happen north of downtown?

 

I think making the gulf bigger between downtown and two of these, and doing so on the hope to increase connectivity to the one is a bad move.

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Why is the growth that has happened in midtown so much more important than the growth that is happening to the east of downtown, or the growth that is poised to happen north of downtown?

 

I think making the gulf bigger between downtown and two of these, and doing so on the hope to increase connectivity to the one is a bad move.

 

Not to mention, replacing the elevated freeway with an at-surface multi-lane "parkway" will actually decrease connectivity, not increase it.

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Alternative 11 sounds the best out of the options but it's unfortunate that 59 has to be widened as a result. All a catch 22

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Alternative 11 sounds the best out of the options but it's unfortunate that 59 has to be widened as a result. All a catch 22

 

I don't think so.

 

They don't address how this at grade parkway will deal with the current rail line on Main street, nor do they address how they will deal with the rail line that extends under the freeway on the bayou.

 

They don't address how a parkway links downtown with anything on the other side of it.... While it can be intimidating to pedestriate under pierce elevated, it is actually very easy to do so. replace it with an at-grade parkway and it is not only intimidating, but harder to cross than before.

 

True it would totally displace all the people who sleep under it, but I suspect they would just find some other areas that are protected from watery elements nearby to call bed.

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TxDot has said tunneling isn't an option, but if they really wanted to provide better neighborhood connectivity why wouldn't they consider cut-and-cover? Cut-and-cover the Spur under Bagby/Brazos/Smith and do the same for the 45 main lanes under Pierce/St Joseph/Jefferson. All in all wouldn't be that much of a pain during construction with the many parallel options downtown/midtown provide for local traffic. Freeway traffic would maintain the status quo until the new tunnels are completed. If the "lack of space for shoulders" is the issue as TxDot has said in the past, why not just build two levels of tunnel and just split the traffic? That might even be better to separate local and thru traffic. Austin has a split and so does San Antonio. And don't tell me you can't tunnel in Houston because it would flood. All tunnels require pumping stations, Houston would do the same. Both Midtown and Downtown would see big benefits with a Spur extension and below grade freeways. TxDot could even sell of the valuable land the Elevated currently occupies after they are done dismantling it.

Edited by Sparrow

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TxDOT said that tunneling isn't an option for replacing Pierce Elevated...one of my plans involve tunneling new southbound lanes and leaving the Pierce structure intact, while restriping the old Pierce to have inner and outer shoulders plus a bike path/pede with another lane (or two). The Pierce definitely needs a facelift: Shepherd under 59 has no lights at all!

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TxDot has said tunneling isn't an option, but if they really wanted to provide better neighborhood connectivity why wouldn't they consider cut-and-cover? Cut-and-cover the Spur under Bagby/Brazos/Smith and do the same for the 45 main lanes under Pierce/St Joseph/Jefferson. All in all wouldn't be that much of a pain during construction with the many parallel options downtown/midtown provide for local traffic. Freeway traffic would maintain the status quo until the new tunnels are completed. If the "lack of space for shoulders" is the issue as TxDot has said in the past, why not just build two levels of tunnel and just split the traffic? That might even be better to separate local and thru traffic. Austin has a split and so does San Antonio. And don't tell me you can't tunnel in Houston because it would flood. All tunnels require pumping stations, Houston would do the same. Both Midtown and Downtown would see big benefits with a Spur extension and below grade freeways. TxDot could even sell of the valuable land the Elevated currently occupies after they are done dismantling it.

 

I would entertain a split northbound and southbound I 45 if the pierce elevated is replaced w/ a trenched southbound 45... The cut and cover would be a nice bonus too.

 

I really think that this might be enough of a compromise to actually work... but I'm not holding my breath

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