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POST: 401 Franklin Post Office Site Redevelopment


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6 hours ago, EllenOlenska said:

People use Washington as a go-to car route to downtown? 

That's my main route from the Greater Heights area to downtown. It

 

14 hours ago, Texasota said:

Well, no, it would increase its capacity substantially. It would make it harder for people in cars to speed down Washington to get Downtown, but that seems like a good thing to me. You people have I-10, Memorial, AND Allen Parkway. You're fine.

Rail might be good for the 400 people who live along Washington, but without parking bearby, rail is useless for the rest of us. I use Washington all the time to get to Downtown and to businesses along the way. Rail would make it far more difficult to do that, as well as making safe turns nearly impossible.

 

Memorial and Allen Parkway are frequently closed for one event or another, so they aren't always available.

6 hours ago, EllenOlenska said:

People use Washington as a go-to car route to downtown? 

Yes

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There are 400 unit apartment complexes along Washington, yes.  The amount of new apartments/townhomes and development within a 6 block walking distance of Washington is a fair amount of people, specifically young people that would use this transit.  I think it would be very successful.

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How can you say he is not an authority. He has spent many years working on rail related projects and has worked with many highly enlightened authorities in transportation and urban matters. He has devoted his life to making Houston a better place for all of us and he definitely has researched this issue as much as anyone around. I had the opportunity to work with him on the Richmond Rail line and found him educated on all of the issues, and connected to all of the transportation experts and knew his stuff. I recently attended a Houston Tomorrow talk where transportation was the discussion., and it was a topic that came up. If he has come to the conclusion that we will not see any more rail in the near future he has good reasons to say that. I don't think he is giving up on it completely but as long as John Culbertson is in office it is dead on arrival.

 

As for the Washington corridor to Hempstead. I think that would be great. Only connect it to the bus hub at old Katy, for connectivity to the rest of the lines,  where the Post Oak Metro redevelopment in Uptown is now being built. This would allow people who live and work in either downtown or Uptown a way to get to the other on a mass transit system. Washington Ave. corridor is a  densely populated area and the younger developing demographics will support rail. It would be a great way for people to get to a game or just about anywhere the rails now run and that includes just about every major destination in Houston. There are plenty of routes into downtown that could be used to get from the Heights avoiding Washington that connect to Houston Avenue. I prefer to favor a more useful mass transit use for this corridor. Maybe not for some of our lifetimes, but for Houston of the future which is something some don't seem to have the ability to see or care or think about. This city is going to continue to get denser and it will be a great alternative to sitting in cars stuck in traffic jams burning hydrocarbons. 

21 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

What are we to make of David Crossley's recent pronouncement that there almost certainly will not be any more light rail built in Houston? Of course he is not exactly an authority, but he is also the last person to give up on something like this if it had a chance.

 

 

 

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30 minutes ago, bobruss said:

How can you say he is not an authority. He has spent many years working on rail related projects and has worked with many highly enlightened authorities in transportation and urban matters. He has devoted his life to making Houston a better place for all of us and he definitely has researched this issue as much as anyone around. I had the opportunity to work with him on the Richmond Rail line and found him educated on all of the issues, and connected to all of the transportation experts and knew his stuff. I recently attended a Houston Tomorrow talk where transportation was the discussion., and it was a topic that came up. If he has come to the conclusion that we will not see any more rail in the near future he has good reasons to say that. I don't think he is giving up on it completely but as long as John Culbertson is in office it is dead on arrival.

 

Ummm, I didn't say he wasn't intelligent, but he is not a public official with control over Metro and hence not in an authoritative position to say that rail will never be built. But the fact that I referenced him suggests that I think he must have "good reasons to say that" and that his opinion is worth our attention.

 

If this is going to turn into another impassioned, emotional argument on transportation modes, let's take it to the Transportation board.

 

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On 11/3/2017 at 9:24 AM, Ross said:

Rail might be good for the 400 people who live along Washington, but without parking bearby, rail is useless for the rest of us. I use Washington all the time to get to Downtown and to businesses along the way. Rail would make it far more difficult to do that, as well as making safe turns nearly impossible.

 

:rolleyes:

 

24 eleven

Washington Courtyard

Memorial Heights @ Washington

The Core

Elan Memorial

Memorial Club

 

Those are all apartment complexes that frontage on Washington. There are at least twice as many apartments within 1/4 mile of Washington. Add in all the townhomes. It would stop at the NW transit center, so add all those.

 

It's a few more than just 400 people. 

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4 hours ago, EllenOlenska said:

I guess, then, Washington would be only figuratively ruined, but literally the Washington rail-route would be a boon for the city? 

No, it would be literally ruined. Much like Fulton is now useless as a North/South route because rail makes turns impossible for most streets. 

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Grade separation came up several times as part of the "how would Houson get high speed rail to downtown" question.  I can't find the links, but one of the options was a plan to put two lines each of freight and high speed rail deep in a trench.  

 

I also recall there is (or was) a long-term vision to build underpasses for Shepherd and Durham under Washington.  

Edited by SkylineView
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22 hours ago, samagon said:

 

:rolleyes:

 

24 eleven

Washington Courtyard

Memorial Heights @ Washington

The Core

Elan Memorial

Memorial Club

 

Those are all apartment complexes that frontage on Washington. There are at least twice as many apartments within 1/4 mile of Washington. Add in all the townhomes. It would stop at the NW transit center, so add all those.

 

It's a few more than just 400 people. 

 

There's a census tract covering around 1 sq mile, roughly centered on the intersection of Wash and Studemont with 4616 people (probably more now). Population density is similar throughout the Washington corridor: mid-4-figures. Call it an average of 5000 /sq mile across the corridor. This is largely a residential corridor, but let's assume that for every resident, there's 0.5 jobs in the area as well. That's an activity level of 7500/sq mile, or about 12/acre.

 

A UC Berkeley study estimates that, for a light rail project to be cost-effective at capital costs of $50M/mile (the green/purple lines cost about 3X this much), you'd need an activity level of 60/acre. So we'd need to not only reduce the cost per mile by 2/3, but also increase activity density by of a factor of 5 as compared to 2010 levels.

 

Most of the corridor is still single-family residential, albeit now with 3000-sf townhouses instead of 1200-sf bungalows. It's possible for neighborhoods made up of single family houses to get to 30,000+/sq mile, but not with our current development rules, with wide right-of-ways, mandatory setbacks, and off-street parking minimums, all of which limit density to levels well below those needed for workable transit.

 

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I have always been extremely enthusiastic about rail and think its great, but I don't see how expansion of light rail as currently implemented in Houston can possibly be considered without a real rethink of how transport has already changed and will change in the future. The rise of app driven ride sharing and the possibility of self-driving transport on the horizon we live in a much different world than we did in 2003.  The type of rail we built seems less cost and time effective now than it did then, IMO.

Edited by JJxvi
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1 hour ago, JJxvi said:

I have always been extremely enthusiastic about rail and think its great, but I don't see how expansion of light rail as currently implemented in Houston can possibly be considered without a real rethink of how transport has already changed and will change in the future. The rise of app driven ride sharing and the possibility of self-driving transport on the horizon we live in a much different world than we did in 2003.  The type of rail we built seems less cost and time effective now than it did then, IMO.

 

currently, with ride sharing, I'm more likely to take mass transit, at least to get to a destination. Who knows when I need to bolt when I'm out, relying on trains is okay, but in a city where the transit doesn't run 24/7 I can't rely on it to get home after a night out. Also, buses are pretty horrible as far as being on time. so with ride sharing options guaranteed to get me home when I'm ready to get home, I'll take mass transit to where I'm going and get an uber to go home.

 

a fun trick when you're dealing with surge pricing after a football game (or similar) take mass transit towards your next destination, set up for an uber to pick you up at a starbucks along the route. you're closer to home and out of surge pricing.

 

Looking to the future, I think mass transit will thrive in a world where humans don't operate the vehicles. I'm talking all the vehicles, including the mass transit vehicles, buses and trains.

 

they would all talk together to give appropriate priority, left and right turn lanes could easily be re-introduced onto the rail lines where they were removed.

Edited by samagon
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18 hours ago, samagon said:

 

Looking to the future, I think mass transit will thrive in a world where humans don't operate the vehicles. I'm talking all the vehicles, including the mass transit vehicles, buses and trains.

 

they would all talk together to give appropriate priority, left and right turn lanes could easily be re-introduced onto the rail lines where they were removed.

 

 

I agree, but maybe for a different reason. The biggest impediment to workable transit is a lack of density. And the biggest impediment to achieving sufficient density is the requirement that every development provide parking. (There are others, but this is the biggest.) 

 

Once cars can drive themselves, you can de-couple parking from the destination. Even if the dominant model remains everyone having their own personal vehicle, if the cars "valet park" themselves, then you can eliminate the rule that off-site parking can only be a short distance away. That opens up a ton of land area for additional commercial and residential development, which could result in corridors with enough density to make transit work.

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I agree and hope completely that self driving cars probably leads to an increase in urban density due to scrapping the on-site parking.  However, I still don't think it plays well with Houston style light rail.  I think self driving taxis will be infinitely more popular and desirable than the type of local service light rail we have now.  I am bullish on more rapid long distance transit like commuter rail, which I previously didn't think would really work until an inner city transit network was built out.

Edited by JJxvi
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With so many destinations from the burbs how can commuter trains get everyone where they need to go without either viable bus and rail transfers. You have people working in the galleria, med center, energy corridor, greenway Plaza, greens point,  downtown and a million points in between.

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2 hours ago, bobruss said:

With so many destinations from the burbs how can commuter trains get everyone where they need to go without either viable bus and rail transfers. You have people working in the galleria, med center, energy corridor, greenway Plaza, greens point,  downtown and a million points in between.

Assuming inexpensive cabs as the last mile, you can have far less stations - you can have nodes at places like the Galleria, downtown, med center, etc, and then autonomous cars or shuttles can take people to the door of their final destination

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21 hours ago, bobruss said:

With so many destinations from the burbs how can commuter trains get everyone where they need to go without either viable bus and rail transfers. You have people working in the galleria, med center, energy corridor, greenway Plaza, greens point,  downtown and a million points in between.

 

This is why fixed guideway transit is economically challenged. We're better off just building much denser neighborhoods and let transit patterns grow up around them.

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20 hours ago, cspwal said:

Assuming inexpensive cabs as the last mile, you can have far less stations - you can have nodes at places like the Galleria, downtown, med center, etc, and then autonomous cars or shuttles can take people to the door of their final destination

 

The advantage is if it's faster than on street transportation.

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I'm not looking to get everyone to take mass transit. I just think that its a great alternative to getting more cars off the road and if that helps the people who don't or can't

take mass transit then hopefully it will help them navigate the streets much easier. It also cuts down on emissions.

 

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5 hours ago, cspwal said:

Also an hour commute is much more pleasant if it is on comfy train where you can nap

You've never ridden a commuter train, have you? Not comfy when someone's ass is stuck in your face for the hour, due to standing room only crowds.

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10 hours ago, Ross said:

You've never ridden a commuter train, have you? Not comfy when someone's ass is stuck in your face for the hour, due to standing room only crowds.

I have. And  In a number  of cities worldwide.  And, despite being crowded at times, I prefer them over driving a car stuck in rush hour.  Standing is also healthier than sitting.  Generally, even when the train is empty, i will stand.  If I do sit, I will certainly give up my seat for an elderly person or a person with infants, etc.  

 

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17 hours ago, bobruss said:

I'm not looking to get everyone to take mass transit. I just think that its a great alternative to getting more cars off the road and if that helps the people who don't or can't

take mass transit then hopefully it will help them navigate the streets much easier. It also cuts down on emissions.

 

 

Trucks delivering things that usually sit in traffic wasting gas, they could get to their destinations more efficiently, translating into cheaper goods for everyone.

 

Mass transit makes sense, too bad marketing departments for automobile manufacturers did such a good job at fooling everyone.

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1 hour ago, samagon said:

 

Trucks delivering things that usually sit in traffic wasting gas, they could get to their destinations more efficiently, translating into cheaper goods for everyone.

 

Mass transit makes sense, too bad marketing departments for automobile manufacturers did such a good job at fooling everyone.

 

ROFL.     Show us a list of cities where congestion has been eliminated or even significantly reduced by the implementation of mass transit.  Oh, that's right, you already did.  For everyone's convenience, I'll repeat the list here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just now, Houston19514 said:

 

ROFL.     Show us a list of cities where congestion has been eliminated or even significantly reduced by the implementation of mass transit.  Oh, that's right, you already did.  For everyone's convenience, I'll repeat the list here:

 

 

 

I never said it has actually worked in practice anywhere.

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2 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

ROFL.     Show us a list of cities where congestion has been eliminated or even significantly reduced by the implementation of mass transit.  Oh, that's right, you already did.  For everyone's convenience, I'll repeat the list here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You actually surprised me. Usually you're the one that posts the facts or at least reasonable statements here on this forum. It has to be fair that mass transit has at least helped alleviate congestion by reducing the amount of extra cars being on the highways, right? Travelling around the country and taking mass transit where I go, I just can't imagine how much more hectic the Bay Area would be without their subway system, the DC metro without MetroRail or even the extra taxis there would be going from Denver International to downtown Denver. In each case when we are going to each respective city during the morning commute, I've seen hundreds of workers hoping aboard to go to work downtown. I mean, say the year is 2050... is the alternative to have 30 lane highways inside of 610 that carry people, out to say the next Katyville... somewhere out in Columbus, Texas? Seriously, who knows how sprawling the city will be in 2050... can mass transit seriously not be a factor in this city when we see how to actually execute it well in so many different cities just within our own nation?

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2 hours ago, Triton said:

 

You actually surprised me. Usually you're the one that posts the facts or at least reasonable statements here on this forum. It has to be fair that mass transit has at least helped alleviate congestion by reducing the amount of extra cars being on the highways, right? Travelling around the country and taking mass transit where I go, I just can't imagine how much more hectic the Bay Area would be without their subway system, the DC metro without MetroRail or even the extra taxis there would be going from Denver International to downtown Denver. In each case when we are going to each respective city during the morning commute, I've seen hundreds of workers hoping aboard to go to work downtown. I mean, say the year is 2050... is the alternative to have 30 lane highways inside of 610 that carry people, out to say the next Katyville... somewhere out in Columbus, Texas? Seriously, who knows how sprawling the city will be in 2050... can mass transit seriously not be a factor in this city when we see how to actually execute it well in so many different cities just within our own nation?

 

I don't necessarily think that's true. I think there's a maximum level of traffic and commute time that the average commuter is willing to tolerate. The congestion will generally reach that point, and there will be a break-even point where any inflows of traffic would be balanced by diminutions due to avoidance of the congestion. I think that, once roadways reach capacity, the inbound destinations would have lessened growth without added capacity, with outlying areas tending to take that growth. Mass transit just allows for added capacity to move people into the central destination. As opposed to, let's say 700,000 people going into Manhattan on a given work day with only the option of automobiles, we get 1.5 million (just making up numbers here merely for illustrative purposes) people going into Manhattan. The average commute gets to that upper bound and then the inbound commuting population levels off. The commute time issue applies to mass transit as well. The average person isn't going to wait for an hour in line to get onto overcrowded trains. They'll just find something closer to where they live or relocate to somewhere where their desired commute can be achieved. If you don't provide the additional options for inbound commuting, suburban job growth will occur to respond to the demand for lower commute times. 

 

Shortened version: I think the line that mass transit alleviates congestion isn't actually true. Mass transit just allows for added capacity to permit additional growth of certain areas.

Edited by The Pragmatist
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37 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

A modest observation: the point of mass transit is not to reduce auto congestion, it is to offer an alternative to auto congestion.

 

 

Exactly right.  And I doubt you'll find many studies even claiming that mass transit will significantly reduce congestion. I support mass transit, but we should not promote it on the basis that it will reduce congestion, because it will not.

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2 hours ago, Triton said:

 

You actually surprised me. Usually you're the one that posts the facts or at least reasonable statements here on this forum. It has to be fair that mass transit has at least helped alleviate congestion by reducing the amount of extra cars being on the highways, right? Travelling around the country and taking mass transit where I go, I just can't imagine how much more hectic the Bay Area would be without their subway system, the DC metro without MetroRail or even the extra taxis there would be going from Denver International to downtown Denver. In each case when we are going to each respective city during the morning commute, I've seen hundreds of workers hoping aboard to go to work downtown. I mean, say the year is 2050... is the alternative to have 30 lane highways inside of 610 that carry people, out to say the next Katyville... somewhere out in Columbus, Texas? Seriously, who knows how sprawling the city will be in 2050... can mass transit seriously not be a factor in this city when we see how to actually execute it well in so many different cities just within our own nation?

 

Denver?  Seriously? I've made the drive to the Denver Airport many times both before and after they had rail service.  Trust me. There is zero discernible difference in the traffic.

 

I am being completely factual, as usual.  And you are arguing against straw men.  Yes, mass transit can be and should be a factor in our city (and is a factor in our city, but I agree it should be a larger factor.  To say that there are no examples of cities where mass transit has eliminated or significantly reduced congestion is not to say that mass transit has no role.

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On 11/16/2017 at 10:53 AM, jmitch94 said:

Can you imagine if everyone in Manhattan tried to drive themselves to work, it would be utter chaos.   

 

If everyone in Manhattan drove themselves to work, Manhattan would look a lot like downtown Houston: a lot lower activity density, a lot more parking.

 

Transit is kind of a chicken-and-egg problem. You can't get transit to be even close to cost-efficient without much higher density than pretty much every part of pretty much every US city has. And it's politically very difficult to achieve that kind of density without a workable transit system, because neighborhoods object to new development by citing increased traffic and parking concerns.

 

Houston has some advantages in this area, since developers can add density by right, so there's no need to up-zone in order to increase density. But at the same time, our setback requirements and parking minimums tend to make fine-grained walkable development all but impossible, and result in very low activity density, even in central neighborhoods.

 

And we dedicate a very high proportion of land-area to non-productive uses. For example, EaDo is a rapidly densifying urban neighborhood, with a mix of multi-family residential, high-density single-family residential, and commercial development. But the area is platted with 280-ft blocks with 80-ft rights of way, which means that almost 40% of land area is RoW. That's before you add in parking minimums and setbacks. Very hard to get to a critical mass of activity density when half your land area is empty.

 

 

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51 minutes ago, BeerNut said:

Any word when they will start developing this site?   After the 2nd year of them hosting D4N, I'm beginning to think that the festival in it's current form will last only as long as the site isn't developed.

 Where will Day for Night festival go???

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  • The title was changed to POST: 401 Franklin Post Office Site Redevelopment

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