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So I was having dinner with my cousin (among others) at Black Walnut Café yesterday at Rice Village. We started talking about school, leading to statistics, leading to things like induced demand, which I thought was rubbish, but he countered with valid points, saying that adding extra lanes just causes more cars to go there and de-incentivizes other routes (or something like that) and spoke of the needs for other types of roads. Specifically, roads like Allen Parkway, which has limited access but allows you to go at a good 45 mile per hour clip consistently, which is great--unfortunately, it's the only real Houston road that does that. We discussed that even if Kirby was extended down to Pearland (connecting to the stub at Beltway 8), it'd still be a slow and ineffective way to go from his home in Pearland to the Village.

I thought about the parkways...they're from a pre-freeway age and are a pretty good hybrid of freeways and surface streets: definitely not for long commutes but an effective way to get around within cities. Robert Moses built a lot of them in New York, but there just aren't that many in Texas. Neither of us proposed doing anything stupid like replacing freeways with parkways, but I thought that parkways (like Allen Parkway) would be a great way to augment the freeway system (and keep traffic flowing) without expanding them more.

Thoughts?

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Allen parkway and memorial drive are two of my favorite roads in Houston for those very reasons.. Why aren't there parkways along the other bayous? Then we would just need a few north south parkway connectors and we would have a nice little grid of parkways. Unfortunately I don't know how new parkways would be implemented though.

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The Woodlands Parkway should be parkwayified.

 

On a side note, wasn't there some sort of street naming ordinance recently passed? You shouldn't be able to call a roadway "_____ Parkway" if it doesn't meet certain design guidelines. I mean come on, "Cypress Creek Parkway" (i.e. FM 1960). Not a chance in hell that that roadway will ever be a true parkway--even if that would be a plus for the community. Cypress Creek Avenue or Cypress Creek Boulevard, sure. Parkway?? No.

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Yeah, parkways are often misnamed. A good "true parkway" could be created by extending 35 the way it was supposed to be...an overpass at University but other than that a divided four lane road with overpasses/underpasses at major roads and minimal interaction with smaller ones. A tunnel at Griggs, Mykawa, Long, and those railroads, merge with Mykawa south of I-45, interface with Wayside but flyover Bellfort, make the roads south of that cul-de-sacs, and merge in with the existing TX-35 and with McHard, which will then extend parkway-style to Cullen Blvd. and connect that segment. Main Street (US-90A) seems to be another good candidate for a not-quite-freeway and seems like a good alternative to the real freeways.

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Likewise, an extension to McHard seems tailor-made for a new parkway design instead of a traditional four lane road lined with stoplights and streets. It's too bad that the whole parkway name was hijacked by developers a long time ago, it's really an effective component of the road system that is sadly underutilized.

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Total agreement.  And I definitely think The Woodlands needs to upgrade a couple of arterials to parkways, starting with Woodlands Parkway.

 

The one I've wondered about for a long time in Houston would be Hillcroft/Voss between 59/Westpark and 10 (maybe even extend it up Bingle to 290).  I think it would be a manageable upgrade (sunken below cross streets, same as Allen Parkway) and a great reliever for the West Loop.  But even if Houston wanted to do it, I think Hunters Creek Village would quash it.

 

Another great upgrade would be Braeswood as a pipeline from the southwest into the medical center, to take load off of 59.

 

Thoughts?

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Yeah... that's ridiculous... it's FM1960...no parkway. Who allows this stuff? And what's the difference between a park way and an expressway? more landscaping?

I've always thought that expressways were basically freeways. Parkways won't have the high speed, width, wide shoulders, etc. that freeways do.

They're not for moving large amounts of people for miles nor for businesses to crowd around and residential streets to pop off of either...and it would be impractical to retrofit many roads to parkways.

One project that might work is extending Post Oak Blvd. along the north side of the bayou (doing all that work they were planning to do) and the south side of Memorial Park and have that connect to Memorail Drive somehow but I can't see that being an especially popular option.

The major problem is that inner loop is basically impossible for retrofitting, especially around Uptown (though Uptown needs it the most)

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The best "parkways" are Allen Parkway, Memorial Drive, and to an extent TC Jester. It should be noted that Houston doesn't really follow a certain street format for how each street functions. If you name a street (Street, Road, Drive, Avenue, Boulevard, Speedway, Highway, Parkway, etc...) then it should function and actually be what it is. Not just calling a road a Blvd for the sake of the name! So Memorial Drive functions like a parkway (at least until it reaches memorial park and then becomes more of a Boulevard and then a regular Avenue of sorts). We have no real stratification or hierarchy of roads. We have Highways and surface streets....thats it. We should have more streets that function like an Allen Parkway which help bypass traffic lights that connect major areas of town or take you beyond the city which could help lessen the need to take the highway. This of course would require ACTUAL effort on the part of whoever calls themselves city planners in our city. Also just because a street has Esplanade or medians or even four lanes doesn't make it a major road, or keep it with it's name association. Most of our roads become four lanes out of necessity because....traffic.

Edited by Luminare
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I will say that's a good assertion. Good examples of this are Heights Blvd, Rice Blvd, and Bellaire Blvd to name a few. I would say that the closer you go to the center of town the more logical naming is. The further out you go the more nonsensical it is.

Edited by Luminare
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The best "parkways" are Allen Parkway, Memorial Drive, and to an extent TC Jester. It should be noted that Houston doesn't really follow a certain street format for how each street functions. If you name a street (Street, Road, Drive, Avenue, Boulevard, Speedway, Highway, Parkway, etc...) then it should function and actually be what it is. Not just calling a road a Blvd for the sake of the name! So Memorial Drive functions like a parkway (at least until it reaches memorial park and then becomes more of a Boulevard and then a regular Avenue of sorts). We have no real stratification or hierarchy of roads. We have Highways and surface streets....thats it. We should have more streets that function like an Allen Parkway which help bypass traffic lights that connect major areas of town or take you beyond the city which could help lessen the need to take the highway. This of course would require ACTUAL effort on the part of whoever calls themselves city planners in our city. Also just because a street has Esplanade or medians or even four lanes doesn't make it a major road, or keep it with it's name association. Most of our roads become four lanes out of necessity because....traffic.

Four lanes is more to carry more traffic. In another thread I thought that the HOV/HOT lanes should be two lanes in any given direction because not for capacity purposes but for passing (and breakdowns). And yes, the parkways are few and far between...Allen, Memorial, and (to extents) South Main and TC Jester.

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Lets not forget  the short "Way"...(ex.) S. MacGregor Way. 

 

Another Houston habit is its ending of a street and then continuation of the same name/ street further along the same alignment. Recipe for much confusion before the days of online map searches.

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Allen parkway and memorial drive are two of my favorite roads in Houston for those very reasons.. Why aren't there parkways along the other bayous? Then we would just need a few north south parkway connectors and we would have a nice little grid of parkways. Unfortunately I don't know how new parkways would be implemented though.

 

Putting the name aside for a second, what about Braeswood / McGregor?  Same basic format no?

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 And what's the difference between a park way and an expressway? more landscaping?

 

A parkway is a controlled access road that goes through a park-like setting. An expressway is a controlled or limited access road, meaning it can have intersections and driveways, unlike a parkway. U.S. 90A between 610 and I-69/US 59 in Sugar Land would be considered an expressway since it has driveways and some intersections are signalized.

Edited by JLWM8609
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Memorial and allen parkway are redundant to an extent

 

As someone who's driven both of them for longer than I care to think about, they are less redundant than one might think.  Memorial's more of a route to points west, Allen Parkway favors the southwest - and they come in at more or less opposite ends of downtown.  I definitely choose one over the other based on the points of origin and destination.

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Lets not forget  the short "Way"...(ex.) S. MacGregor Way. 

 

Another Houston habit is its ending of a street and then continuation of the same name/ street further along the same alignment. Recipe for much confusion before the days of online map searches.

 

Never forget.

 

Baby,_I_Love_Your_Way_(Peter_Frampton_al

 

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Putting the name aside for a second, what about Braeswood / McGregor?  Same basic format no?

 

I'm pretty sure the home owners that have driveways that line the street(s) will object. By getting rid of lights, you'd increase the average speed on the roads.

 

Those houses are worth some $ so their objects will be heard and addressed. McGregor has a better shot (due to the fact that Riverside / 3rd ward has been slower to gentrify), but it really doesn't address any real traffic need.

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Total agreement.  And I definitely think The Woodlands needs to upgrade a couple of arterials to parkways, starting with Woodlands Parkway.

 

The one I've wondered about for a long time in Houston would be Hillcroft/Voss between 59/Westpark and 10 (maybe even extend it up Bingle to 290).  I think it would be a manageable upgrade (sunken below cross streets, same as Allen Parkway) and a great reliever for the West Loop.  But even if Houston wanted to do it, I think Hunters Creek Village would quash it.

 

Another great upgrade would be Braeswood as a pipeline from the southwest into the medical center, to take load off of 59.

 

Thoughts?

 

A.) There doesn't seem to be any strategy or metric that would necessitate the upgrade of a surface road to a semi-highway / expressway status. Maybe a new designation needs to be concocted to address the need for grade-separated, but not limited access roads. When OST, Memorial Drive, Heights Blvd, Lyons avenue, and Upper Lake Dr (in Atascocita) all have the same COH road designation (Major Thoroughfare), you realize there is a problem. Until streets like Lyons avenue and Memorial have different designations, there is no hope.

 

B.) Upgrading a surface street to handle more expressway traffic is to concede that the 'just-build-more-lanes' philosophy of TxDOT is incorrect. TxDOT already has the answer to your problem. It's to build more lanes. What's the question? Doesn't matter. 

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Another great upgrade would be Braeswood as a pipeline from the southwest into the medical center, to take load off of 59.

 

Thoughts?

 

A Brays Bayou Parkway could be fitting on many fronts: flood mitigation, traffic flow, as well as recreational opportunity.

 

Brays Bayou is already channelized from roughly 59 all the way to Spur 5. Increase stormwater capacity of the bayou all along this stretch by eliminating the banks and build retaining walls in their place--the banks reduce the maximum potential volume. At the same time install weirs every so often along the course of the bayou to slow the flow toward the bay while creating a waterway with a higher constant minimal water level.

 

Put the new parkway inside of the retaining walls thereby reducing construction costs and time. Putting the parkway inside of the retaining walls will allow for a reduction in the traffic lanes at grade. Westbound parkway lanes should be on the south side of the bayou and eastbound lanes to the north to facilitate smooth ingress and egress with the surface. 

 

The additional land made available with the removed at grade lanes can be converted to park land or promenade depending upon the existing surrounding land use. Major cross streets would see traffic flow improvement as stoplight wait time would be reduced with the new parkway below grade. Still want greenery along the bayou instead of concrete or rock walls? Plant ivy along the parkway walls. Of course hike and bike trails would have to be included inside of the retaining walls as well.

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I will say that's a good assertion. Good examples of this are Heights Blvd, Rice Blvd, and Bellaire Blvd to name a few. I would say that the closer you go to the center of town the more logical naming is. The further out you go the more nonsensical it is.

 

And St. Joseph Parkway (formerly Calhoun) is the exception that proves the rule. As I've stated before, streets in the downtown grid running parallel to Texas Avenue are all avenues. This includes Franklin, Prairie, Rusk, Polk, Jefferson, etc. So the thoroughfare should be called St. Joseph Avenue. I have no quarrel with the St. Joseph part since I am not fond of the Calhoun I believe gave rise to the previous name.

 

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More parkway madness. One of the proposals from TxDOT regarding the Pierce Elevated is to tear it down and replace it with a 10-12 lane at grade parkway. Looks a lot like an arterial boulevard to me.

http://offcite.org/2014/07/28/the-rebuilding-of-i-45-a-once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity-to-improve-houston

 

Bravo to poster Thomas Colbert in the linked article for noticing that road construction in Texas is driven neither by needs nor wants, but by the magically reinforcing nexus of an agency (led in turns by a buddy of Rick Perry, or by some woman who used to bring him his coffee) with hundreds of billions of dollars of contracts in its gift, and a huge consulting and roadbuilding industry, with job offers and campaign contributions in its gift.

 

(Please note that Bubba, whatever else he may be, is not an ideologue, and this is an utterly non-partisan rant; 25 years ago it likely would have concerned Bob Bullock, to whom it is tempting, as the anecdotes pile up, to apply the word "amoral." Nor of course is it exclusive to roadbuilding: healthcare, education ...  but those things, though lucrative, bear no particularly Texas stamp.)

 

The governorship might as well be an appointed position. It's TxDOT chair that people should be voting on, as it's TxDOT that largely determines what Texas becomes.

     

Until then, I don't think parkways (in Colbert's words,"serious attention being paid in the design of the roadway to the scenic and spatial experience of drivers and the development of meaningful relationships between roadway, landscape and urbanism") are something you need to seriously fear.

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If this is the Tom Colbert I think it is I know him as a very wise and insightful individual. Just to focus on a single point, that of the definition of a parkway, I think his description says it best: serious attention being paid in the design of the roadway to the scenic and spatial experience of drivers and the development of meaningful relationships between roadway, landscape and urbanism."

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More parkway madness. One of the proposals from TxDOT regarding the Pierce Elevated is to tear it down and replace it with a 10-12 lane at grade parkway. Looks a lot like an arterial boulevard to me.

http://offcite.org/2014/07/28/the-rebuilding-of-i-45-a-once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity-to-improve-houston

 

Again, there would be no need for a parkway on the south side of downtown.

 

If you demolish the Pierce elevated and either upgrade 59/10 or re-route 45 along those two freeways, then you'd only need to put a 'parkway-like' section along the west side of downtown.

 

You place a spur to the north side of downtown from 45 north. You then use the trenched section of 45 to connect w/ Houston avenue and create a grand bayou bridge. You then tie the new parkway trench section w/ the existing downtown grid system of Pierce street and St. Joseph's parkway. Both of those roads can handle the traffic. 

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I don't want this to be a Pierce Elevated hijack, and I still stand by the quote in the original paragraph, bolded for emphasis:

 

Neither of us proposed doing anything stupid like replacing freeways with parkways

What's made the most sense in this discussion is trying to figure out where parkways would still work.

On that related subject, I think given the amount of ROW the light rail took up, Harrisburg Blvd. could've been a viable route for a parkway and could maintain most (if not all) of its businesses. That's what could've been a compromise plan for 225.

Edited by IronTiger
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I don't want this to be a Pierce Elevated hijack, and I still stand by the quote in the original paragraph, bolded for emphasis:

What's made the most sense in this discussion is trying to figure out where parkways would still work.

On that related subject, I think given the amount of ROW the light rail took up, Harrisburg Blvd. could've been a viable route for a parkway and could maintain most (if not all) of its businesses. That's what could've been a compromise plan for 225.

There's nothing stupid about that. There are cities everywhere with different ideas about how to develop than houston. Using inflammatory rhetoric instead of trying to understand the benefits is self defeating.

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Again, there would be no need for a parkway on the south side of downtown.

If you demolish the Pierce elevated and either upgrade 59/10 or re-route 45 along those two freeways, then you'd only need to put a 'parkway-like' section along the west side of downtown.

You place a spur to the north side of downtown from 45 north. You then use the trenched section of 45 to connect w/ Houston avenue and create a grand bayou bridge. You then tie the new parkway trench section w/ the existing downtown grid system of Pierce street and St. Joseph's parkway. Both of those roads can handle the traffic.

Agreed

Bravo to poster Thomas Colbert in the linked article for noticing that road construction in Texas is driven neither by needs nor wants, but by the magically reinforcing nexus of an agency (led in turns by a buddy of Rick Perry, or by some woman who used to bring him his coffee) with hundreds of billions of dollars of contracts in its gift, and a huge consulting and roadbuilding industry, with job offers and campaign contributions in its gift.

(Please note that Bubba, whatever else he may be, is not an ideologue, and this is an utterly non-partisan rant; 25 years ago it likely would have concerned Bob Bullock, to whom it is tempting, as the anecdotes pile up, to apply the word "amoral." Nor of course is it exclusive to roadbuilding: healthcare, education ... but those things, though lucrative, bear no particularly Texas stamp.)

The governorship might as well be an appointed position. It's TxDOT chair that people should be voting on, as it's TxDOT that largely determines what Texas becomes.

Until then, I don't think parkways (in Colbert's words,"serious attention being paid in the design of the roadway to the scenic and spatial experience of drivers and the development of meaningful relationships between roadway, landscape and urbanism") are something you need to seriously fear.

Truth

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I don't want this to be a Pierce Elevated hijack, and I still stand by the quote in the original paragraph, bolded for emphasis:

 

What's made the most sense in this discussion is trying to figure out where parkways would still work.

On that related subject, I think given the amount of ROW the light rail took up, Harrisburg Blvd. could've been a viable route for a parkway and could maintain most (if not all) of its businesses. That's what could've been a compromise plan for 225.

 

Yeah, can't say that I like the look of Harrisburg Blvd. with the light rail, too wide and took out too much. (Can't say that I like it on Main St. either... but that's another topic). So what are your ideas on transporting people via public transportation on a parkway? keep the metro busses, or maybe a throwback trolley system? I'm thinking of the New Orleans garden district one.

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Well, unless we want to strip out the light rail, any parkway-ing of Harrisburg should've been done a decade ago or more.

 

Wayside isn't a bad candidate for conversion today: it's got a lot of the infrastructure in place. An underpass at Lawndale and the railroads, then all we need is an underpass at Harrisburg and some construction to prevent left turns and people jumping straight across the road. Maybe depress two lanes and keep the other two lanes open as local traffic lanes? That's the biggest issue I see, but when you do that you have a clear path from I-10 to I-45. Almeda Road seems like a good candidate too, take a lot of pressure off of 288.

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Well, unless we want to strip out the light rail, any parkway-ing of Harrisburg should've been done a decade ago or more.

Wayside isn't a bad candidate for conversion today: it's got a lot of the infrastructure in place. An underpass at Lawndale and the railroads, then all we need is an underpass at Harrisburg and some construction to prevent left turns and people jumping straight across the road. Maybe depress two lanes and keep the other two lanes open as local traffic lanes? That's the biggest issue I see, but when you do that you have a clear path from I-10 to I-45. Almeda Road seems like a good candidate too, take a lot of pressure off of 288.

Yeah I meant to mention Almeda too, I've taken it a few times to avoid 288 traffic.

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What's wrong with Almeda? Its limited access along most of the street with long stretches between lights. Just trench it under the cross street intersections and your golden, parkway from the Texas Medical Center to west Pearland and beyond.

Wasn't Almeda Rd. where the huge sink hole fell in a few years back? Give it a few more years, it may just trench itself. :D

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What's wrong with Almeda? Its limited access along most of the street with long stretches between lights. Just trench it under the cross street intersections and your golden, parkway from the Texas Medical Center to west Pearland and beyond.

 

Maybe it's just my view, but parkways ought to have more nature and less urbanity with cars moving along curving, meandering roadways. As one of the straightest roadways in the entire metro region, Almeda is an avenue that is a great candidate for Smart Street improvements--improvements that would likely take stress off of 288. I agree that the intersections ought to be grade separated to ease the flow of traffic, but that's a Smart Street or Express Street, if you prefer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

in addition to my east end "Buffalo Parkway", i propose getting rid of the bi-directional traffic flow along the north and south sides of Brays bayou/Braeswood. in place of the east flowing lanes on the north side, and west flowing lanes on the south side, i would change the travel direction of those inner bayou lanes so that they follow the same direction as the outer segments of Braeswood that are left running along each side of the bayou, and trench the inner lanes at each of the cross roads, like Hilcroft, Chimney Rock, Rice, Stella Link, Buffalo Speedway, Kirby, and Main, creating a continuous non stop parkway from almost Fondren to the Texas Medical Center. N and S Braeswood would turn into feeder/access roads if you will for "Brays Parkway" to serve all the houses, apartments, and businesses that front the streets on each side of the bayou.
i suppose it could be extended even further west, past where N Braeswood cuts over and merges with S Braeswood, but you would have to get creative with a 2 lane "parkway", almost like HOV lanes for Braeswood, put possibly trenched under major cross roads like a parkway, though it would take out the whole median of that portion of Braeswood to add 2 more lanes to that stretch of road.

i would do the same with TC Jester, from 610 to i10 redirecting the inner lanes on each side of the bayou and trenching them under the major cross roads like Ella, 18th, and 11th, so you would have an almost continuous (minus the stoplight at Larkin) Parkway from 610 to i10.


Buffalo Parkway (from the Pierce redesign thread) in Green. hard to tell but there is black (current road) on the west end where Franklin turns into Navigation turns into Jensen, before the parkway branches off east along the bayou. the black portion would be parkwayified under Canal and Navigation, for a non stop journey linking Buffalo Parkway directly to downtown. the parkway ends at the 90A/Clinton intersection, where it would split off in either direction for alternate routes for people coming into/out of downtown from i10 as well as 610E/225, or even 45S when its backed up.

9E261940-0923-4638-87F5-0EBC3BCA10BC_zps

Brays Parkway

this part is a little tricky since the north and south side roads dont align.. S Braeswood has to skip over north across the retention pond on the east side of 610 to run along side N Braeswood for a stretch, before N Braeswood splits off from S Braeswood to the north side of the bayou just west of Stella Link.

DC04C837-5A0A-4D47-A894-0E8C76BB4BFE_zps

just a little visual of the direction changes on the north/south bi-directional traffic flow, if my description was too confusing..

left side is the current Braeswood layout.. right side is the future Brays Parkway on the inner lanes, Braeswood on the outer lanes. there would be one or two places where this layout would have to change due to some developments being on the bayou side of the roads in a few of the curves, so one of the lanes of the parkway would shift across the median while one of the access road lanes runs out/merges into the other, so the middle 2 of the 4 lanes on each side of the bayou are parkway lanes (each side of the parkway would split to straddle the medians, one lane on either side), and the inner most bayou side lane would become an access road lane to exit for the developments on the left side of the parkway (i really should of sketched that out instead, i didnt realize how confusing that would sound until i just typed it out. lol).
E45B6A2A-59C6-4770-84D0-45C4E8291AF1_zps

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