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TxDOT plan for downtown and I-45: analysis and problem list


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I just posted online a comprehensive listing of my concerns about TxDOT's plan.

 

http://houstonfreeways.com/analysis

 

I would certainly be interested in getting any feedback for errors in my analysis, or issues I missed. Of course, some of these issues are matters of opinion, but many are serious and need to be looked at by TxDOT.

 

I'm going to submit the final list (pending any changes based on feedback) as public comment.

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The good news is that TxDOT is well aware of this and discussed the potential changes due to COVID during their Transportation Short Course (convention) last week. TxDOT is a collection of engineers/c

https://realtynewsreport.com/boundaries-of-downtown-houston-will-be-erased-as-7-billion-freeway-redo-changes-everything/   HOUSTON – (Excerpt from Houston 2020: America’s Boom Town by Ralph

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I respect the research and time you put into this, as well as your knowledge of the freeway system. That being said, this is like an elder traffic engineer's wet dream. More lanes, more exits, more freeway access. That's already proven to not be a solution as the 10 extension and the city of Los Angeles has proven. Mobility is not just about driving your car wherever you need to go. And acquiring huge tracts of right of way over and over again is not a solution either. This model would've been great 40+ years ago, but we have to think of broader solutions and what's best for the city also. The removal of the pierce elevated is a seismic shift in philosophy if it actually happens, and shows a new generation of thinkers is actually being heard. That will help improve the city and sends a message about the future of Houston. I like it.

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The plan as it stands is kinda broken, and I like what you've done to it. Most of those are pretty reasonable--it's a massive project, and it's no good where a construction project by the state makes things worse by a short-sighted design (a redesigned ramp-reversal project makes exiting for work a more difficult experience than it should be). One of the things I didn't see of how it would actually add any capacity to the Pierce Elevated, which would be replaced (and which was over-capacity), just adding two lanes in either direction, and that's the only (single point of failure) for I-45.

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In your first point about 45 through traffic, you mention that there needs to be 3 uninterrupted lanes. Considering the level of current traffic where there is already 3 uninterrupted lanes, how is maintaining the same number of lanes adequate? 4 or 5 lanes should be their goal.

 

As it stands, specifically south of I-10, this is not a freeway expansion which will ease traffic, it is a freeway realignment which will only serve to remove barriers in certain neighborhoods and make current barriers bigger for other neighborhoods. So it becomes less a question of easing traffic congestion and more a philosophical question of why is one area more deserving than another? And especially, why is one area more deserving at the expense of another?

 

To be clear, if the pierce could be removed without making the current neighborhood barriers that other sections of the downtown area face, it would be bearable, but as the removal of the pierce impacts other neighborhoods as negatively as it does it is a major concern.

 

Someone, maybe it was on swamplot, mentioned that this realignment would further widen the psychological barrier between the lower income east side of Houston and the more affluent west side of Houston that would be felt farther out than just the neighborhoods it directly impacts. It's true actually.

 

In the new configuration, how does one travel 45 northbound to Allen Parkway, or Memorial? In the new configuration, you simply don't. At least, not without exiting at the south of downtown and going through the streets (adding 15 minutes to your commute). So there is insufficient access. How does one travel eastbound on I-10 an access midtown? Even 59/288 northbound doesn't have access to the west side of downtown.

 

When I first saw the design, I was excited, after continuing to look at it, I am less and less excited with each passing day.

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In the new configuration, how does one travel 45 northbound to Allen Parkway, or Memorial? In the new configuration, you simply don't. At least, not without exiting at the south of downtown and going through the streets (adding 15 minutes to your commute). So there is insufficient access. How does one travel eastbound on I-10 an access midtown? Even 59/288 northbound doesn't have access to the west side of downtown.

 

When I first saw the design, I was excited, after continuing to look at it, I am less and less excited with each passing day.

 

Your question is whether the whole plan is worth it b/c the 10 ppl / day who drive in from Friendswood and work off Waugh and Memorial have to drive 15 minutes more to work? Really?

 

How does one drive from 45 south to Allen Parkway or Memorial? You leave your house earlier and take surface streets..... surface streets that can accommodate the traffic as they're 5 lanes wide and would probably add 5 more minutes (not 15) to your commute.

 

 

TS.

Edited by DNAguy
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Your question is whether the whole plan is worth it b/c the 10 ppl / day who drive in from Friendswood and work off Waugh and Memorial have to drive 15 minutes more to work? Really?

 

How does one drive from 45 south to Allen Parkway or Memorial? You leave your house earlier and take surface streets..... surface streets that can accommodate the traffic as they're 5 lanes wide and would probably add 5 more minutes (not 15) to your commute.

 

 

TS.

 

 

My reply was not questioning whether the whole plan is worth it based on the loss that a very few will have. The thread is questioning what changes/improvements to the proposal should be brought forth. 

 

I did say why this plan is a horrible design in the other thread, maybe that's what you should have responded to, but here's (in a nutshell) why this plan is bad:

 

Who gains from this?

Not the people who are using 45 as through traffic, cause the number of lanes available to them won't be changing, and in some places it is even less.

Not the residents of the 3rd ward cause they are going to lose cross streets where 288 and 59 merge.

Not the residents east of downtown cause the freeway is going to take a whole block and make the freeway wider, and that pretty park they showed isn't being installed, or paid for by txdot, so that probably will never happen. Oh, and cross streets are lost here as well.

Not the residents north of downtown cause the freeway is going to be wider and taller.

Not the residents northwest of downtown cause there's no real change.

 

So far as I can tell, it's just residents of midtown that gain something out of this realignment.

 

So yes, this plan is horrible, however, I'm trying to reserve my responses in this thread to constructive feedback.

 

I am trying to look at this from the perspective of "It's probably going to be built, how can I provide feedback so that at least it is better than the current plan?"

 

Read my reply again and you let me know if I was trying to say that the whole plan is not worth it, or if I am trying to provide valid feedback, cause in this response, I'm trying to provide valid feedback. However, in the other thread, yeah, I'm trashing it pretty hard, cause it is a steaming pile of what I would expect from a government funded project.

 

Overall, the point of this is to ease congestion on I-45 right? How exactly does maintaining the same number of lanes achieve that?

 

Hope that helps clarify.

Edited by samagon
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The Brits have a concept called "wide nodes, narrow roads." The idea being, build your intersections big enough to handle traffic loads, and then the individual corridors can be right-sized as needed. This is usually trotted out as an argument in favor of roundabouts, since it's easy to flare out a single-lane road to a double or even triple lane roundabout.

 

So let's talk for a minute about how adding more lanes is "already proven to not be a solution," a recurring argument alternately called "induced demand," "triple convergence," etc, and represented in this thread by Slick Vik. The way I see it, the Downtown Ring should be thought of as basically a single, really complex intersection. To that end, it should be big enough to handle all the traffic coming in to it. Individual corridors can still be congested, and we may choose to leave them that way due to the diminishing marginal returns of added capacity. But the main intersection shouldn't be the bottleneck.

 

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Who gains from this?

Not the people who are using 45 as through traffic, cause the number of lanes available to them won't be changing, and in some places it is even less.

Not the residents of the 3rd ward cause they are going to lose cross streets where 288 and 59 merge.

Not the residents east of downtown cause the freeway is going to take a whole block and make the freeway wider, and that pretty park they showed isn't being installed, or paid for by txdot, so that probably will never happen. Oh, and cross streets are lost here as well.

Not the residents north of downtown cause the freeway is going to be wider and taller.

Not the residents northwest of downtown cause there's no real change.

So far as I can tell, it's just residents of midtown that gain something out of this realignment.

So yes, this plan is horrible, however, I'm trying to reserve my responses in this thread to constructive feedback.

Ok.

I think you're assuming a whole lot when you write this project off.

Consider the alternative. If you expand 45 without improving the pinch points of the other freeways, what did you actually improve?

Did you consider the fact that the cost of ROW in downtown could actually expanding the Pierce more expensive than this plan?

Eado residents lose land that is in the shadow of an elevated freeway that has no real potential.

3rd ward loses one or two (I don't remember) cross streets to midtown. They'll still have access. It may take 1 extra minute. That's right, 1. Let's not conflate this with the original crime of tearing down a minority neighbor and running 288 through it. I mean, come on.

North Houston residents already made a deal with the devil in agreeing to let HCTRA run the north hardy through it and allowing TXDOT to rebuild the Elyssian viaduct. This project will be far less invasive to single family home owners than those two.

Downtown is neutral? Hardly. This actually puts more land for development in downtown but re-routing I10. IT removes an impediment to development in the Pierce. It removes the brutalist freeway on the west side of downtown and allows for a potential 'signature' bridge for downtown.

I have no illusions that the construction is going to suck..... a lot. But I ask you, what is the alternative?

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Heh. There will be two camps.  1) will advocate a pie in the sky dream plan that does everything this plan does with no neighborhood impediment, no eminent domain, twice the capacity and one quarter of the cost that they drew up on google maps.  2) will oppose everything and support nothing,

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3rd ward loses one or two (I don't remember) cross streets to midtown. They'll still have access. It may take 1 extra minute. That's right, 1. Let's not conflate this with the original crime of tearing down a minority neighbor and running 288 through it. I mean, come on.

Actually, seven streets will be cut off.

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Street closures in this plan (59 going east):

- Blodgett st (no longer will intersect main under 59)

- Caroline St

- Austin St

(Barbee no longer will intersect with Austin, but was already disconnected under 59)

- Eagle st no longer crosses the freeway - the southside will intersect the access road, but the northside dead ends

- Cleburne st (same thing)

- Crawford st stub no longer crosses under the freeway to intersect with Cleburne

 

2 blocks get closed off for the newer 59 N -> 288 S ramp (read demolished homes)

 

59/288 combo (going north)

- Stuart street didn't previously have a crossing, but it gets more disconnected for the 288 express ramp coming off Chenevert

Besides that I don't see anymore street closures on this section.

 

The right of way looks like it expands into the HPD station at Gray and Chartres

 

East Side mega freeway (going north)

- Polk no longer crosses

- Dallas no longer crosses

- Lamar, McKinney, and Walker all add new crossings.

- Hamilton is now a continuous feeder for the mega freeway

- Ruiz gets cut off in downtown

- Canal and Runnels streets are closed west of the RR tracks

- The entire West DR apartment development is demolished.

 

That's 6 roads closed in the third ward, mainly because they don't want to build intersections of freeways I assume.  East downtown nets one more crossing and better N/S travel, while the portions closer to the Bayou basically get cut off

 

Have I forgotten anything with East/West connectivity?  


Actually, seven streets will be cut off.

 

What's the seventh street? Did I miss one?

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Sorry, if people are already supportive of a "Pierce Skypark" then the whole "psychological and physical wall" issue wasn't nearly a big issue as they were making it out to be. I don't really want to remove the Pierce, because of (what I perceive of) the park hypocrisy, not actually improving capacity or design significantly despite new ROW, enormous cost, single point of failure, etc.

 

1. I would remove the inner-lane entrance from Allen Parkway to Pierce Elevated, first and foremost.

2. Then, I would simplify the Interstate 45/US-59 five-stack by taking out the lanes from 59 to 45, and directly paralleling them on Interstate 10 to 45 N. This would not only cut distance but reduce traffic on the Pierce Elevated.

3. With less pressure from those exits to and fro the Pierce, the 59 ramp stubs are then used for a direct 288 connection instead of those ramps southwest of that interchange. Those ramps are now closed.

4. Then we do as the rest of the plan suggests and straighten out Interstate 10 (and those new 59-45 ramps suggested, instead the whole 45) to be a bit closer to the Hardy Yard site.

5. Finally, we take whatever they were suggesting for being underneath the Pierce Skypark and implement that. Add lots of soundproofing, plate the concrete with stainless steel, and add lots of lights. 

 

EDIT: To those saying the Hardy Toll Road extension has more impact to SF homes, I read on another thread (and you can see this on Google Earth) that most of the homes in the actual ROW area have been cleared for years and would be far more devastating to the warehouses along that stretch, which is obviously less "meaningful" than homes.

Edited by IronTiger
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2. Then, I would simplify the Interstate 45/US-59 five-stack by taking out the lanes from 59 to 45, and directly paralleling them on Interstate 10 to 45 N. This would not only cut distance but reduce traffic on the Pierce Elevated.

 

IronTiger, I like your basic idea: Do not allow any connections onto the Pierce Elevated (allow through-traffic only), and all traffic connecting to/From Interstate 45 makes the connections on the north side of downtown or on the south side (for example I-10 eastbound to I-45 southbound would go along US 59).

 

I don't think that idea was one of the preliminary alternatives, although it could have been considered separately and not offered as a preliminary alternative.

 

As I mentioned in my analysis http://houstonfreeways.com/analysis, removing the Pierce Elevated is a bad move from the transportation perspective. But it is likely to be a good move for other objectives. I think the Pierce Corridor is highly valuable as a transportation corridor, either for the scenario that you suggest or perhaps for managed lanes or certain connections. But I also think it is almost surely impossible to save the Pierce transportation corridor at this point since the influential downtown folks want it gone. That's why I focused my analysis on improving what is proposed, rather than saving the Pierce transportation corridor.

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Actually, seven streets will be cut off.

 

 

Yeah so our math isn't adding up.

 

The only 3rd ward streets that connect to Midtown currently but will not in this plan are :

 

Cleburne and Blodgett

 

My assumptions:

1.) The Boundaries of 3rd ward are I45 south, 288, Spur 5, and Brays Bayou

2.) The only streets that connect 3rd ward to midtown are: Pierce, McGowen, Tuam, Elgin, Alabama, Cleburn, Wheeler,and Blodgett (barely)

 

I count 2.

 

Where do you get 7?

Edited by DNAguy
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Yeah so our math isn't adding up.

 

The only 3rd ward streets that connect to Midtown currently but will not in this plan are :

 

Cleburne and Blodgett

 

My assumptions:

1.) The Boundaries of 3rd ward are I45 south, 288, Spur 5, and Brays Bayou

2.) The only streets that connect 3rd ward to midtown are: Pierce, McGowen, Tuam, Elgin, Alabama, Cleburn, Wheeler,and Blodgett (barely)

 

I count 2.

 

Where do you get 7?

 

I suspect he was also including all the streets that get cut off south of midtown.  Austin and Caroline are the big ones being cut off there.  Historically that area was part of third ward until it got cut off by 288

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I suspect he was also including all the streets that get cut off south of midtown. Austin and Caroline are the big ones being cut off there. Historically that area was part of third ward until it got cut off by 288

This. Midtown is the name they started using for the area to make it more attractive sounding, like Museum District and Medical Center Area. It's still Third Ward.

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This. Midtown is the name they started using for the area to make it more attractive sounding, like Museum District and Medical Center Area. It's still Third Ward.

 

Not sure I follow. The Third Ward hasn't been an officially definite designation in nearly 100 years. Since then, it's essentially been what people perceive it to be. Perhaps 50 years ago it would have been "Third Ward", but it's not anymore.

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Not sure I follow. The Third Ward hasn't been an officially definite designation in nearly 100 years. Since then, it's essentially been what people perceive it to be. Perhaps 50 years ago it would have been "Third Ward", but it's not anymore.

 

I perceive it as Third Ward and so do many others in the area who still use the name. I've lived in the Third Ward area my entire life and a lot of the people who've been in the area have considered Main St., not 288, to b ethe western boundary of the area. Only in the last 20-30 years have names like Midtown and Museum District become commonplace to describe the area. Prior to that, parts of Midtown were referred to as Third Ward or Fourth Ward, depending on what part you were referring to.

Edited by JLWM8609
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IronTiger, I like your basic idea: Do not allow any connections onto the Pierce Elevated (allow through-traffic only), and all traffic connecting to/From Interstate 45 makes the connections on the north side of downtown or on the south side (for example I-10 eastbound to I-45 southbound would go along US 59).

I don't think that idea was one of the preliminary alternatives, although it could have been considered separately and not offered as a preliminary alternative.

As I mentioned in my analysis http://houstonfreeways.com/analysis, removing the Pierce Elevated is a bad move from the transportation perspective. But it is likely to be a good move for other objectives. I think the Pierce Corridor is highly valuable as a transportation corridor, either for the scenario that you suggest or perhaps for managed lanes or certain connections. But I also think it is almost surely impossible to save the Pierce transportation corridor at this point since the influential downtown folks want it gone. That's why I focused my analysis on improving what is proposed, rather than saving the Pierce transportation corridor.

I don't think blaming it on just influential downtown folks is fair. It's a sensible move to remove that psychological barrier. It's been there for decades and underneath it is as desolate as ever.

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I don't think blaming it on just influential downtown folks is fair. It's a sensible move to remove that psychological barrier. It's been there for decades and underneath it is as desolate as ever.

 

But, is it sensible to trade one psychological barrier for others?

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Sorry, if people are already supportive of a "Pierce Skypark" then the whole "psychological and physical wall" issue wasn't nearly a big issue as they were making it out to be. I don't really want to remove the Pierce, because of (what I perceive of) the park hypocrisy, not actually improving capacity or design significantly despite new ROW, enormous cost, single point of failure, etc.

1. I would remove the inner-lane entrance from Allen Parkway to Pierce Elevated, first and foremost.

2. Then, I would simplify the Interstate 45/US-59 five-stack by taking out the lanes from 59 to 45, and directly paralleling them on Interstate 10 to 45 N. This would not only cut distance but reduce traffic on the Pierce Elevated.

3. With less pressure from those exits to and fro the Pierce, the 59 ramp stubs are then used for a direct 288 connection instead of those ramps southwest of that interchange. Those ramps are now closed.

4. Then we do as the rest of the plan suggests and straighten out Interstate 10 (and those new 59-45 ramps suggested, instead the whole 45) to be a bit closer to the Hardy Yard site.

5. Finally, we take whatever they were suggesting for being underneath the Pierce Skypark and implement that. Add lots of soundproofing, plate the concrete with stainless steel, and add lots of lights.

EDIT: To those saying the Hardy Toll Road extension has more impact to SF homes, I read on another thread (and you can see this on Google Earth) that most of the homes in the actual ROW area have been cleared for years and would be far more devastating to the warehouses along that stretch, which is obviously less "meaningful" than homes.

Not sure who you're calling a hypocrite but it seems a good amount of people want it gone for good. Pierce skypark is a last gasp effort to save it by nostalgists, though I'm not sure of what awe the pierce ever inspired.

Sorry, if people are already supportive of a "Pierce Skypark" then the whole "psychological and physical wall" issue wasn't nearly a big issue as they were making it out to be. I don't really want to remove the Pierce, because of (what I perceive of) the park hypocrisy, not actually improving capacity or design significantly despite new ROW, enormous cost, single point of failure, etc.

1. I would remove the inner-lane entrance from Allen Parkway to Pierce Elevated, first and foremost.

2. Then, I would simplify the Interstate 45/US-59 five-stack by taking out the lanes from 59 to 45, and directly paralleling them on Interstate 10 to 45 N. This would not only cut distance but reduce traffic on the Pierce Elevated.

3. With less pressure from those exits to and fro the Pierce, the 59 ramp stubs are then used for a direct 288 connection instead of those ramps southwest of that interchange. Those ramps are now closed.

4. Then we do as the rest of the plan suggests and straighten out Interstate 10 (and those new 59-45 ramps suggested, instead the whole 45) to be a bit closer to the Hardy Yard site.

5. Finally, we take whatever they were suggesting for being underneath the Pierce Skypark and implement that. Add lots of soundproofing, plate the concrete with stainless steel, and add lots of lights.

EDIT: To those saying the Hardy Toll Road extension has more impact to SF homes, I read on another thread (and you can see this on Google Earth) that most of the homes in the actual ROW area have been cleared for years and would be far more devastating to the warehouses along that stretch, which is obviously less "meaningful" than homes.

Not sure who you're calling a hypocrite but it seems a good amount of people want it gone for good. Pierce skypark is a last gasp effort to save it by nostalgists, though I'm not sure of what awe the pierce ever inspired.

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But, is it sensible to trade one psychological barrier for others?

 

If anything, it's removing one and reinforcing others (though the reinforcement can be mitigated). It's not as if this plan plows freeways through corridors where they do not already exist.

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Ok.

I think you're assuming a whole lot when you write this project off.

Consider the alternative. If you expand 45 without improving the pinch points of the other freeways, what did you actually improve?

Did you consider the fact that the cost of ROW in downtown could actually expanding the Pierce more expensive than this plan?

Eado residents lose land that is in the shadow of an elevated freeway that has no real potential.

3rd ward loses one or two (I don't remember) cross streets to midtown. They'll still have access. It may take 1 extra minute. That's right, 1. Let's not conflate this with the original crime of tearing down a minority neighbor and running 288 through it. I mean, come on.

North Houston residents already made a deal with the devil in agreeing to let HCTRA run the north hardy through it and allowing TXDOT to rebuild the Elyssian viaduct. This project will be far less invasive to single family home owners than those two.

Downtown is neutral? Hardly. This actually puts more land for development in downtown but re-routing I10. IT removes an impediment to development in the Pierce. It removes the brutalist freeway on the west side of downtown and allows for a potential 'signature' bridge for downtown.

I have no illusions that the construction is going to suck..... a lot. But I ask you, what is the alternative?

Expand 45 without improving pinch points: if you add 2 lanes in each direction there is no more pinch point.

 

ROW cost in downtown: look at google maps today, pierce elevated can add 3 or 4 lanes if it is built out over pierce street, no ROW cost needed there. farther north the land is currently being used as grass, that should be cheaper than even on the east end, the biggest change is to align to go over top of dallas street rather than underneath and minimal row acquisition there. from there up, you're already at 5 lanes wide.

 

eado residents lose land: not just eado, there's a whole complex of low income housing that is going to need to be razed for this. and the land that's lost for a freeway that they are in the shadow of becomes a very wide freeway canyon.

 

3rd ward loses one or two: they lose at least 6 through streets.

 

north houston: it's unfortunate, but there's so many railroad tracks and bayous intersecting right there, you could build a literal wall and it wouldn't really make things worse than they are currently. the psychological barrier that gets added to here is the least impactful because it adds the least, percentage wise.

 

downtown: will be interesting to see how it plays out for them, but yeah, I think it's really a neutral deal. gotta wonder if they are going to just relocate those displaced low income housing from the east of 59 to the west of 59. easiest thing to do.

 

what is the alternate? build on top of pierce street, go over dallas street instead of under it. you can make 45 10 lanes the whole way, take away the ramp from 59 southbound to 45 northbound, take away the ramp from i10 westbound to 45 southbound.

 

but this isn't about what is the alternate, or what would I do. it's about analysis and problem list.

 

Another one I saw: No exit to downtown from westbound I-10. (it appears you can get there from the exit from I-10 WB to 59 SB, and exit near stadiums).

 

Foot traffic around 45/59/288 complex through the east of downtown will be high at all times (but especially during baseball and soccer seasons), this is a potential problem in that St. Emanuel and Hamilton will be treated as traditional Houston feeder roads by drivers. The signaling will have to be such as to keep cars traveling at no faster than 30 mph. if the freeway does get capped through here there are going to be people jaywalking all over the place making it very dangerous for drivers and peds alike.

 

Another problem item: Currently, Polk has a bicycle path on it (one of those with the painted lines), as Polk will no longer be crossing the freeway, are they planning on creating a safe means of cyclists getting across the freeway?

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How exactly is this not an increase in capacity?  45 currently has six mainlanes and 59 also has six mainlanes.  It appears to me that the new highway ROW on the east side has 18 mainlanes.   12 lanes to 18 seems like 50% more capacity even before you get to things like 3 surface southbound feeder lanes on what was Hamilton which had been cut off by the GRB, etc.

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Right? I guess you can't please everyone. And I can't think of a single person who calls Midtown the 3rd ward? Most of the wards have gentrified to the point of not being "wards" anymore.

 

3rd ward is still there, as a super neighborhood. it's not so much cutting access in the middle of third ward, but it further severs access between third ward and other areas.

 

Like you say, it's not something that will please everyone, I just can't fathom how not increasing the number of lanes while changing the alignment is going to reduce traffic, so while the idea of removal may be hot now, 5 years after it's built will it still please people who think it's a good idea now?

 

I guess that's kind of my main analysis and problem with the realignment:

Where in Houston is 3 through lanes in a given direction on a freeway adequate? Everywhere I can think of that has only 3 through lanes has oodles of traffic. So I'm very confused by looking at this and seeing that 45 goes from on top of pierce street only having 3 lanes in each direction to a different alignment and still only having 3 lanes in each direction. Yes, I see that they straighten out lanes, and have fewer interchanges, but that only goes so far, and I'd like to know how they think it goes far enough.

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This. Midtown is the name they started using for the area to make it more attractive sounding, like Museum District and Medical Center Area. It's still Third Ward.

 

I have to admire your perseverance. 

 

However, that's some sticky precedence. I mean, wouldn't that logic dictate that we need to still refer to Texas as Tejas y Cohuila or the USA as part of the British Empire?

 

I don't want to sound flippant, but I think you're purposefully trying to make the redesign into something racial or socioeconomic when you invoke the 3rd ward.

 

We all know the 3rd ward has been the epicenter of black culture in Houston. To say that it gets the worst deal, you're accusing TxDOT of unfairly targeting black people.

 

3rd ward is not getting cut off from other areas of Houston and it is not being targeted.

 

I just think its irresponsible for people to continue this refrain. There are real race issues with this country. We don't need to invent one here in Houston to try and stop a freeway redesign.

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Expand 45 without improving pinch points: if you add 2 lanes in each direction there is no more pinch point.

 

ROW cost in downtown: look at google maps today, pierce elevated can add 3 or 4 lanes if it is built out over pierce street, no ROW cost needed there. farther north the land is currently being used as grass, that should be cheaper than even on the east end, the biggest change is to align to go over top of dallas street rather than underneath and minimal row acquisition there. from there up, you're already at 5 lanes wide.

 

eado residents lose land: not just eado, there's a whole complex of low income housing that is going to need to be razed for this. and the land that's lost for a freeway that they are in the shadow of becomes a very wide freeway canyon.

 

3rd ward loses one or two: they lose at least 6 through streets.

 

north houston: it's unfortunate, but there's so many railroad tracks and bayous intersecting right there, you could build a literal wall and it wouldn't really make things worse than they are currently. the psychological barrier that gets added to here is the least impactful because it adds the least, percentage wise.

 

downtown: will be interesting to see how it plays out for them, but yeah, I think it's really a neutral deal. gotta wonder if they are going to just relocate those displaced low income housing from the east of 59 to the west of 59. easiest thing to do.

 

what is the alternate? build on top of pierce street, go over dallas street instead of under it. you can make 45 10 lanes the whole way, take away the ramp from 59 southbound to 45 northbound, take away the ramp from i10 westbound to 45 southbound.

 

but this isn't about what is the alternate, or what would I do. it's about analysis and problem list.

 

Another one I saw: No exit to downtown from westbound I-10. (it appears you can get there from the exit from I-10 WB to 59 SB, and exit near stadiums).

 

Foot traffic around 45/59/288 complex through the east of downtown will be high at all times (but especially during baseball and soccer seasons), this is a potential problem in that St. Emanuel and Hamilton will be treated as traditional Houston feeder roads by drivers. The signaling will have to be such as to keep cars traveling at no faster than 30 mph. if the freeway does get capped through here there are going to be people jaywalking all over the place making it very dangerous for drivers and peds alike.

 

Another problem item: Currently, Polk has a bicycle path on it (one of those with the painted lines), as Polk will no longer be crossing the freeway, are they planning on creating a safe means of cyclists getting across the freeway?

 

I don't have time to debate all your points right now.

 

However, your foot traffic argument is specious in that St Emmanuel won't be treated as a feeder any more than Chartes is now. In fact, when they rebuild St Emmanuel it will be done so to ADA standards that would increase safety. The speed limits and observed speeds of traffic will be that of all streets within the downtown grid. If the area is capped then more foot traffic will probably mean that lights are less likely to timed in succession as people want to cross. This will reduce speeds and increase safety.

 

As far as ROW being available for the Pierce, what grass are you referring to? If the grass you're talking about is Buffalo Bayou Park or Sam Houston Park then no thank you.

 

We don't have enough parks in Houston so let's not go and pave over the ones we do have.

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I have to admire your perseverance.

However, that's some sticky precedence. I mean, wouldn't that logic dictate that we need to still refer to Texas as Tejas y Cohuila or the USA as part of the British Empire?

I don't want to sound flippant, but I think you're purposefully trying to make the redesign into something racial or socioeconomic when you invoke the 3rd ward.

We all know the 3rd ward has been the epicenter of black culture in Houston. To say that it gets the worst deal, you're accusing TxDOT of unfairly targeting black people.

3rd ward is not getting cut off from other areas of Houston and it is not being targeted.

I just think its irresponsible for people to continue this refrain. There are real race issues with this country. We don't need to invent one here in Houston to try and stop a freeway redesign.

Maybe it isn't a race issue, but it is an economic one, to the point where Midtown NIMBYs (which the freeway pre-dated, might I add) are willing to screw over every other part of the areas surrounding downtown (including taking out Clayton Homes), not to mention motorists, to get rid of the Pierce.

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Maybe it isn't a race issue, but it is an economic one, to the point where Midtown NIMBYs (which the freeway pre-dated, might I add) are willing to screw over every other part of the areas surrounding downtown (including taking out Clayton Homes), not to mention motorists, to get rid of the Pierce.

Midtown existed before the pierce...

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Midtown existed before the pierce...

Not really, as stated in this thread, "Midtown" was the 3rd Ward and only picked up that name post freeways. Besides, that logic is flawed anyway because that's like saying "Afton Oaks existed first, therefore the rail can't go on Richmond." (Not that said argument hasn't been used, but you get the idea)

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If you ask me I would eliminate 45, 59, and 10 through downtown and there would be no ring around downtown anymore. Through traffic could go via 610.

 

Then how do people who live in Spring Branch, Memorial, Meyerland, and other areas get downtown to work? Spend an hour on crowded surface streets? I remember those days. They were bad.And that was when Houston was much smaller than it is now.

 

 

Edited by Ross
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I don't have time to debate all your points right now.

However, your foot traffic argument is specious in that St Emmanuel won't be treated as a feeder any more than Chartes is now. In fact, when they rebuild St Emmanuel it will be done so to ADA standards that would increase safety. The speed limits and observed speeds of traffic will be that of all streets within the downtown grid. If the area is capped then more foot traffic will probably mean that lights are less likely to timed in succession as people want to cross. This will reduce speeds and increase safety.

As far as ROW being available for the Pierce, what grass are you referring to? If the grass you're talking about is Buffalo Bayou Park or Sam Houston Park then no thank you.

We don't have enough parks in Houston so let's not go and pave over the ones we do have.

Actually, north of the bayou (where there's park land), 45 is already 5 lanes in each direction. I'm speaking of the area between where pierce elevated curves north off of pierce, and south of the bayou. Take some time looking at a current Google earth view.

Anyway, neither here nor there. I get your point about st Emmanuel being treated more as a surface street. Would be awesome if they built one lane on each side as a true bike lane, that might help things too.

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Then how do people who live in Spring Branch, Memorial, Meyerland, and other areas get downtown to work? Spend an hour on crowded surface streets? I remember those days. They were bad.And that was when Houston was much smaller than it is now.

Just take downtown exits from the freeway like the ones that already exist.

Not really, as stated in this thread, "Midtown" was the 3rd Ward and only picked up that name post freeways. Besides, that logic is flawed anyway because that's like saying "Afton Oaks existed first, therefore the rail can't go on Richmond." (Not that said argument hasn't been used, but you get the idea)

There was a neighborhood pre-pierce. That's my point. Midtown or third ward either way same concept. And in general people on the lowest socioeconomic and political rung had freeways shoved down their throats and at that time that was predominantly blacks. Edited by Slick Vik
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Just take downtown exits from the freeway like the ones that already exist.

 

 

But your post said you wanted the freeways gone. Make up your mind.

 

And, do you really htink that 610 can carry all of the through traffic? The answer is, probably not.

 

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Then how do people who live in Spring Branch, Memorial, Meyerland, and other areas get downtown to work? Spend an hour on crowded surface streets? I remember those days. They were bad.And that was when Houston was much smaller than it is now.

 

Wouldn't it be nice if there were some fixed mode of transportation that went down these spines emanating from downtown, that would not have to worry about incidental traffic.

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But your post said you wanted the freeways gone. Make up your mind.

And, do you really htink that 610 can carry all of the through traffic? The answer is, probably not.

I said the parts that ring around downtown. Ideally yes I'd want all freeways within 610 gone but I'm being reasonable.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were some fixed mode of transportation that went down these spines emanating from downtown, that would not have to worry about incidental traffic.

What a crazy thought

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Midtown and 3rd ward aren't the same no matter how many times people on this thread say it. Midtown includes portions of both 3rd and 4th ward, and most of the original heavily developed areas are in 4th ward west of the dividing line which is Main.

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Yeah so our math isn't adding up.

 

The only 3rd ward streets that connect to Midtown currently but will not in this plan are :

 

Cleburne and Blodgett

 

My assumptions:

1.) The Boundaries of 3rd ward are I45 south, 288, Spur 5, and Brays Bayou

2.) The only streets that connect 3rd ward to midtown are: Pierce, McGowen, Tuam, Elgin, Alabama, Cleburn, Wheeler,and Blodgett (barely)

 

I count 2.

 

Where do you get 7?

 

First:

Call the areas on each side of 59 between the 527 spur and 288 whatever you want, 3rd ward, midtown, museum district, I don't care, you can call one side Camelot and the other Pandora for all the good it will do to change the facts.

 

Second:

Don't think of it as numbers, because whether it's 7, 6 or 2, these are insignificant numbers in and of themselves. Compare the numbers against what is there now.

 

Currently, from the 527 spur to 288 there are 11 (not including Barbee or Crawford): Almeda, Cleburne, La Branch, Eagle, Austin, Caroline, Wheeler, San Jacinto, Fannin, Main, Blodgett.

 

In the new plan there are 6 cross streets across the same stretch of freeway: Almeda, La Branch, Wheeler, San Jacinto, Fannin, Main.

 

You're reducing by 5 in this stretch (not including one block streets), from 11. That's a 45% reduction in connectivity.

 

Yes, from an actual traveling standpoint, you're talking 1, 2, maybe 3 minutes, not a big deal. 

 

From a psychological standpoint though, you're reducing access between two areas that already had reduced access to each other. It's like a border between countries where you put in bigger fences to keep people on their respective sides. Yes, it does feel like that.

 

To sum up:

Is this single reason, enough reason to stop the whole of phase 3? No.

Is it worth additional scrutinizing from the plan administrators to come up with clever solutions? Yes.

Might the clever solution increase costs? Probably, and finding a way to keep connectivity between these two areas would be worth the cost.

Edited by samagon
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Here's a question about the east side at the convention center:

 

Why are there freeway crossings at Lamar, Mc Kinney, and Walker?

 

Could they keep the Polk crossing and get rid of the Mc Kinney and Walker crossings?

 

Polk offers more connectivity to downtown than Lamar, Mc Kinney, or Walker (considering they end at the convention center anyway). Keeping the Lamar crossing makes sense cause you can use it as a U-turn to get from St Emanuel to Hamilton.

 

Polk is more of a major street in the east end than any of those other streets, and finding a way to maintain access to downtown direct on that street should be something considered, the potential extra cost associated with making this work could be saved by removing the crossings for those other streets (and potentially increasing uninterrupted greenspace on top of the freeway).

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The reason appears to be that the I45 mainlanes to and from the golf freeway will be flying over and down into the trench crossing near ground level around polk.  My guess is that if there is an alternative, it would be sinking them down sooner which means its either Polk or Leeland/Bell but not both.

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First:

Call the areas on each side of 59 between the 527 spur and 288 whatever you want, 3rd ward, midtown, museum district, I don't care, you can call one side Camelot and the other Pandora for all the good it will do to change the facts.

 

Second:

Don't think of it as numbers, because whether it's 7, 6 or 2, these are insignificant numbers in and of themselves. Compare the numbers against what is there now.

 

Currently, from the 527 spur to 288 there are 11 (not including Barbee or Crawford): Almeda, Cleburne, La Branch, Eagle, Austin, Caroline, Wheeler, San Jacinto, Fannin, Main, Blodgett.

 

In the new plan there are 6 cross streets across the same stretch of freeway: Almeda, La Branch, Wheeler, San Jacinto, Fannin, Main.

 

You're reducing by 5 in this stretch (not including one block streets), from 11. That's a 45% reduction in connectivity.

 

Yes, from an actual traveling standpoint, you're talking 1, 2, maybe 3 minutes, not a big deal. 

 

From a psychological standpoint though, you're reducing access between two areas that already had reduced access to each other. It's like a border between countries where you put in bigger fences to keep people on their respective sides. Yes, it does feel like that.

 

To sum up:

Is this single reason, enough reason to stop the whole of phase 3? No.

Is it worth additional scrutinizing from the plan administrators to come up with clever solutions? Yes.

Might the clever solution increase costs? Probably, and finding a way to keep connectivity between these two areas would be worth the cost.

 

Do you not think the neighborhood will get any benefit from the freeway being trenched through this stretch?  I would happily trade a few minor street crossings for a depressed freeway.

 

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Here's a question about the east side at the convention center:

 

Why are there freeway crossings at Lamar, Mc Kinney, and Walker?

 

Could they keep the Polk crossing and get rid of the Mc Kinney and Walker crossings?

 

Polk offers more connectivity to downtown than Lamar, Mc Kinney, or Walker (considering they end at the convention center anyway). Keeping the Lamar crossing makes sense cause you can use it as a U-turn to get from St Emanuel to Hamilton.

 

Polk is more of a major street in the east end than any of those other streets, and finding a way to maintain access to downtown direct on that street should be something considered, the potential extra cost associated with making this work could be saved by removing the crossings for those other streets (and potentially increasing uninterrupted greenspace on top of the freeway).

 

Good observation, Sangamon. If and when the potential deck park is built, I think one or more of Lamar, McKinney and Walker will be closed to traffic, making the Polk crossing even more important.

 

I think I will add that to my list. JJxvi's observation about the I-45 ramps being above trench level at that point is probably the reason for the lack of the Polk crossing, but I think the Polk bridge could be raised somewhat at the middle to potentially accommodate the ramps.

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My overall problem with the plan is where capacity is reduced in one area it's just shifted somewhere else. Why not just remove the pierce and not add capacity to 59? Force people to shift their driving habits, and perhaps mobility habits as a whole. That would be a real way to get people to stop going through the city center in the first place.

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I prepared this drawing for the removal of the Polk Street overpass

 

http://houstonfreeways.com/images/plan-analysis/us59-polk-annotated.jpg

 

However, I am still considering how serious this issue is, and if it warrants inclusion in the list I plan to submit as a public comment.

 

The question is: how much potential exists for future development east along Polk that will generate traffic? If traffic generation is low, then most people can go south to Leland, and for some people in the north it will be easier to go to Capitol (but made more difficult by the stadium). I just don't see a substantial traffic demand on Polk, so the removal should be tolerable.

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Polk allows for direct entrance to drop off/pick up people from Toyota center, as well as vehicular access to the Dallas street retail corridor.  I think it is a vital link, that severing would make the freeway more of a barrier than it already is

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