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


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They're taking one block. For a project of this magnitude, that's fairly impressive. Again, compare this to the takings that went on with the Katy Freeway reconstruction.

 

The reduced crossings may be a blessing in disguise, by creating a clearly delineated set of arterial streets in downtown, reducing traffic on other streets and setting the stage for quality of life improvements such as separated bike lanes and sidewalk expansion/street beautification. There is already considerable overcapacity in downtown surface streets, which means that the land is being used inefficiently.

 

I'm a bit puzzled by the characterization of a "car canyon". There's currently a 1970s-era elevated freeway there. Compare that to, say, the Central Expressway in Dallas. I don't think you'll have too many people preferring the former over the latter. Furthermore, the caps are by their nature a long-term project. It's not necessarily for a better Houston for us, but for our children and grandchildren.

 

I'm also a little confused by an elevated freeway being removed as a problem east of downtown, but one remaining being a problem north of downtown. If it's an issue up there, certainly it's a bigger one down the 59 corridor?

 

Thing is, I'm not sure congestion reduction is the goal here, nor should it be. By the time this is done, there will be 7-8 million in the Houston metro area, and the City of Houston proper will be around 3 million in population. With those numbers, there simply is no feasible long-term congestion reduction strategy, short of implementing road pricing (and even that is temporary). This may be a point we fundamentally disagree on with respect to traffic design, but to me, the goal of our freeway system going forth should be to direct unnecessary trips away from downtown, as opposed to making it easier to get through downtown. This design balances that with practical concerns about current habits.

 

Truth is, as long as Houston continues to grow, traffic will only get worse. We can build out of it to a point, but making it our only priority leaves Houston a city for cars, and cars alone.

Yep, one block with apartments, and all kinds of great businesses, farther up where it will cross I-10 they're removing an entire community. Katy freeway was worse, but to pull an analogy I recently saw "having an accident at 60mph is worse than an accident at 30mph, but they're both accidents".

 

I don't see how reduced mobility between areas of town (especially when they are disparate income areas) is ever a good thing. Reducing the number of crossings (increasing choke points) can never be good.

 

If they put that park over it, it won't be an issue. If they lit the current structure and put in areas for food stalls, and things to make the elevated portion inviting, it wouldn't be an issue either. 

 

The current elevated portion of 59 is a known quantity and is being worked around despite itself. Pierce elevated is the same way.

 

If congestion reduction isn't the goal, then what is? Specifically removing the pierce elevated? Bringing midtown together with downtown is the only goal? In my estimation, for all the reasons I've listed, the price is too high.

 

We're going to have to just agree to disagree here.

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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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Does anybody not see the irony in this statement? I mean...we're talking about the same downtown Houston, right?

 

Maybe I'm wrong, but in my mind an elevated freeway half a block wide is more palatable than a trench 1 and 1/2 blocks wide, no matter how many surface parking lots there are already in downtown, and how many empty crumbling buildings there are, this would make it decidedly worse on that side of town.

 

I'm assuming that the money to put a grass cover on top of this thing isn't going to happen. It's not in the budget for the re-alignment which means the city has to come forward with the money to put a cap on it. If I remember reading correctly it's a $200,000,000 estimate. Where is this money going to come from? Downtown, and/or EaDo TIRZ? Harris County Sports Authority? Convention Authority? Philanthropy? Bond referendum? Have I missed reading somewhere that the money has already been earmarked? Why is everyone here assuming this part is a done deal?

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Maybe I'm wrong, but in my mind an elevated freeway half a block wide is more palatable than a trench 1 and 1/2 blocks wide, no matter how many surface parking lots there are already in downtown, and how many empty crumbling buildings there are, this would make it decidedly worse on that side of town.

I'm assuming that the money to put a grass cover on top of this thing isn't going to happen. It's not in the budget for the re-alignment which means the city has to come forward with the money to put a cap on it. If I remember reading correctly it's a $200,000,000 estimate. Where is this money going to come from? Downtown, and/or EaDo TIRZ? Harris County Sports Authority? Convention Authority? Philanthropy? Bond referendum? Have I missed reading somewhere that the money has already been earmarked? Why is everyone here assuming this part is a done deal?

If the freeway were to be trenched it leaves the possibility for a park or green space to be placed there eventually. How many years or decades it could take is left up to your imagination, but makes sense from a long term standpoint. I know this is pure fantasy but it would great to have an even larger park space on both sides of the convention center, eventually maybe even redoing the east side of the GRB at a later time.

Leaving the northern portion elevated of this reconfiguration is reasonable. I know we cannot get rid of all elevated freeways in the loop but as much as we can hide them under the surface the better. Plus, when we have major flooding it's easier to clean up a slab of concrete than let a neighborhood flood.

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Maybe I'm wrong, but in my mind an elevated freeway half a block wide is more palatable than a trench 1 and 1/2 blocks wide, no matter how many surface parking lots there are already in downtown, and how many empty crumbling buildings there are, this would make it decidedly worse on that side of town.

 

I'm assuming that the money to put a grass cover on top of this thing isn't going to happen. It's not in the budget for the re-alignment which means the city has to come forward with the money to put a cap on it. If I remember reading correctly it's a $200,000,000 estimate. Where is this money going to come from? Downtown, and/or EaDo TIRZ? Harris County Sports Authority? Convention Authority? Philanthropy? Bond referendum? Have I missed reading somewhere that the money has already been earmarked? Why is everyone here assuming this part is a done deal?

 

I don't think anyone's assuming it's a done deal. I personally don't think the cap will be constructed until 5-10 years after construction is complete. However, that's fine by me - the trench will be an incremental improvement, and once the cap is easier to visualize, funding for construction will be easier to acquire.

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I'm just vaguely reading what's been posted, but for the people who are worried about a trench, I understand their point. It could end up like the 59 trench (unlikely), or it could look like crap.

In order to prevent this, there needs to be a strong push for this proposed green space that would cover the trench.

That should be the focus of both sides; trenching the mega-highway and creating a unified space that won't cut off any neighboorhoods (sorta like 288 did)

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I'm just vaguely reading what's been posted, but for the people who are worried about a trench, I understand their point. It could end up like the 59 trench (unlikely), or it could look like crap.

In order to prevent this, there needs to be a strong push for this proposed green space that would cover the trench.

That should be the focus of both sides; trenching the mega-highway and creating a unified space that won't cut off any neighboorhoods (sorta like 288 did)

 

I think a better example for a design target should be something like US 75 that runs through Uptown Dallas.

 

It has no vegetation, but still looks pretty darn good (as far as a trenched freeway can look 'good'). I imagine the 59 trench would look pretty crappy without the ivy. And we all know that ivy doesn't do well in the dark :blink: .

 

The ultimate design of the 59/69/45 trench should be built to accommodate capping, but look good without it IMO.

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For those not aware, TxDOT recently posted revised schematics on the official project web site, http://www.ih45northandmore.com/

 

I updated my analysis of the schematics, http://houstonfreeways.com/analysis

 

The good news is that TxDOT has fixed many of the problems in the original plan, including the two most serious issues: insufficient capacity on I-45 through downtown and the bottleneck choke point at North Main. Other major fixes include access of the I-45 MaX lanes to/from Loop 610, the I-45 northbound approach to Beltway 8, downtown access from I-10 westbound, and an on-ramp from Allen Parkway to the downtown spur.

 

However, I still have seven major items of concern (two new items and five from the original list), and I've asked TxDOT to review these items.

 

Realistically I can't expect to get action on all my original items of concern (http://houstonfreeways.com/analysis#status), and in some cases my concerns did not warrant changes or changes were not feasible. Overall, I'm really glad to see the revisions, and I'm hoping for some more adjustments to address my remaining concerns.

 

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that's what it appears to be. I suspect they are going to remove the spur section.

 

MaxConcrete, do you have any information on this?

 

I found something interesting at the end of a texas monthly article...

 

http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/green-acres-2/

 

 

 

There’s a proposal to convert an elevated portion of I-45 east of downtown into a park.

 

The spur 35 section is the only part of any freeway that fits the description. Very curious. Very curious indeed. I'm not going to get my hopes up, they are probably talking about what some people want to do with the pierce elevated, even though it's not east of downtown.

 

Overall though, these changes make me feel a little less apprehensive about this project, 45 on the NB side is mostly going to be 4 lanes, and in some places 5 lanes. Even if they aren't addressing concerns of the surface streets, this at least makes me feel better that there will be more capacity, which is what is needed. I still think it will suck for people living in the area, but I feel better about those of us living here losing something, if overall it is going to be better for everyone in the city and not just the few developers who see $$ with the Pierce removed.

Edited by samagon
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I like how they are integrating the new 45 North / West downtown spur into the existing street grid.

 

I hate that we're replacing a trenched section of freeway with an elevated structure.

 

Is there no way to use the existing trenched section of 45 under Dallas and tie that into the 45 spur?

 

 

 

 

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I like how they are integrating the new 45 North / West downtown spur into the existing street grid.

 

I hate that we're replacing a trenched section of freeway with an elevated structure.

 

Is there no way to use the existing trenched section of 45 under Dallas and tie that into the 45 spur?

 

On the positive side, there are currently elevated structures in that stretch, in addition to the trenched freeway.  With the new plan, we'll still have elevated structures (of very similar size to the existing structures) and lose the trenched and surface freeway.

Edited by Houston19514
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There are also already elevated ramps there - the SB access to Jefferson, Bagby, and Pierce, and the NB access from Pease, Brazos, and Calhoun St. Joseph Parkway.

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Maybe I'm just not reading this schematic right, but how do you get into downtown from 45 south?  It looks like they are saying they are going to demolish the current ramps on to Pease and St. Joseph 

 

My reading of the schematic is the same as yours: the long elevated connection into Pease and St.Joseph will no longer provide access into Pease and St. Joseph, but instead will serve as a long exit ramp to US 59.and SH 288. Access to Pease and St. Joseph will be from the main lanes.

 

The schematic is not clear about the connection from Jefferson to the southbound elevated structure. The only way I can interpret the schematic is that the I-45 main lanes will go over the Jefferson connection, but the geometry does not seem to allow that if the I-45 main lanes remain at ground level at Delano street. Maybe the Jefferson connection is brought down to ground level (it is very old), and that could make it feasible to bring the I-45 lanes over it.

 

It also is not clear to me how the HOV lane is terminated.

 

I'll ask TxDOT about that area, and if the design is cause for concern I will add it to my problem list.

 

Samagon: that mention in the Texas Monthly article is almost surely the Pierce Elevated, and they mistakenly said it is east of downtown.

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There's still no connection to Veterans Memorial from I-45. I submitted the suggestion to construct a connection to Veterans Memorial from the NB feeder in the public comments, but I guess TxDOT doesn't think it's busy enough to warrant a connection.

 

Also, looking at the I-10/I-45 section north of Downtown, the updated schematic doesn't include the proposed extension of N. San Jacinto to the intersection of Fulton and Burnett St. and the N. San Jacinto St. overpass over the UPRR. It's gonna be one heck of a transition from a depressed freeway east of Hardy to jumping to an elevated freeway that'll have to clear the tall overpasses at N. San Jacinto and N. Main that go over the UPRR.

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Maybe I'm just not reading this schematic right, but how do you get into downtown from 45 south?  It looks like they are saying they are going to demolish the current ramps on to Pease and St. Joseph 

 

This change is a separate project that (I believe) is currently in progress.  There will still be exits to Pease and St. Joseph, but they will not be via the long ramps.  The long ramps will now carry traffic from Northbound I-45 to Southbound I-69/US59.

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are there any schematics posted online, similar to what is there for the 45 relocation? What is going to happen to the rest of the spur out by UH? What about southbound traffic?

 

The long term plans call for the spur to be extended south to Alvin and redesignated SH 35.

 

Fun fact: Did you know SH 35 begins at the Jefferson St. onramp to I-45 and is multiplexed with I-45 to 610?

Edited by JLWM8609
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Rather disappointed to see a connector from I-10 westbound added to the southbound spur (aka downtown connector), which unless I'm mistaken appears to add another separate lane going over Buffalo Bayou, with its associated support columns, etc. I thought part of the point of demolishing Pierce Elevated was to greatly slim down the profile of what goes over the bayou; now we seem to be slowly bulking it back up again.

 

I mean really, does somebody coming in on I-10 from east Houston need a connector to fly them all the way around the north side of downtown and land them on the west side, south of the bayou? They can enter downtown from the east side, where they're coming from.

 

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By that logic, why keep the east side downtown connector?  We could just have people coming from the North come into North downtown, and people coming in from the west into NW downtown (since I-10 is north of downtown anyway)

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H-Town - I live just east of DT and use the current connector every day.  When the new plan first came out, without this connector, I was upset.  Getting to Montrose, Midtown and to the 527 Spur is difficult otherwise.  I am very happy to see this added.  Having the main lanes of 45 gone will clear a lot out.  But, the traffic patterns still need to be functional.  getting in to Montrose, Wertheimer and points west from 45 South will still be a big problem/hassle, I fear.  I would like to see a cut and Cap tunnel run under Pierce or St. Joseph to the SW side of Downtown connecting I-45 South.   

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By that logic, why keep the east side downtown connector?  We could just have people coming from the North come into North downtown, and people coming in from the west into NW downtown (since I-10 is north of downtown anyway)

 

We're talking about a connector that arcs halfway around downtown before touching anything. I-10 east probably delivers the least number of commuters to downtown of any of the freeways that serve it.

 

On second thought, it sounds like you may have been agreeing with me. Tentatively I would say that yes, in general, it makes more sense to have people enter downtown from the direction they're coming from, rather than everyone wanting a special ramp to take them to their preferred side of downtown.

 

Edited by H-Town Man
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H-Town - I live just east of DT and use the current connector every day.  When the new plan first came out, without this connector, I was upset.  Getting to Montrose, Midtown and to the 527 Spur is difficult otherwise.  I am very happy to see this added.  Having the main lanes of 45 gone will clear a lot out.  But, the traffic patterns still need to be functional.  getting in to Montrose, Wertheimer and points west from 45 South will still be a big problem/hassle, I fear.  I would like to see a cut and Cap tunnel run under Pierce or St. Joseph to the SW side of Downtown connecting I-45 South.   

 

If you're going to Montrose, Midtown, Westheimer, etc., wouldn't it make more sense to go down 59? North of downtown should not be the shortest distance between you and Montrose. The scenic priorities of the Buffalo Bayou Park should take precedent over people who need to drive from east of downtown to Montrose.

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But it is quicker.  It's much quicker.  That's why I go that way.  I do a lot of volunteer work with Buffalo Bayou Partnership and understand it's aesthetic aspirations and agree that it is important.  But, not above all else needs of the city.  There is going to be a lot less concrete over the bayou with the rerouting of I-45.  I don't think that a single lane will lead to more support columns in the park. 

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But it is quicker.  It's much quicker.  That's why I go that way.  I do a lot of volunteer work with Buffalo Bayou Partnership and understand it's aesthetic aspirations and agree that it is important.  But, not above all else needs of the city.  There is going to be a lot less concrete over the bayou with the rerouting of I-45.  I don't think that a single lane will lead to more support columns in the park. 

 

Of course it's quicker. Direct ramps are always quicker. We could fill the city with direct ramps and everything would be quicker.

 

Yes, the single lane will lead to more support columns because as I mentioned, the lane is detached from the other lanes. They don't want the cars trying to merge together, so they've created a whole new structure for this one lane, with its own support columns, shoulders, etc. The city doesn't need this one lane that much.

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I respect your opinion.  But, there currently is a connection here.  TxDOT apparently believes that it is important enough to keep the connection here.  As the East side and East Downtown continue to develop and if the KBR ever is developed into something significant, these connections to I-10 will be very important.  Forcing a lot of traffic across the Downtown grid, which already is very obstructed by on the East side, especially on any type of game day, is very impractical.  You may be right about the columns...But, I only the final design will decide that.

 

I'll take my comments off the air...

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I respect your opinion. But, there currently is a connection here. TxDOT apparently believes that it is important enough to keep the connection here. As the East side and East Downtown continue to develop and if the KBR ever is developed into something significant, these connections to I-10 will be very important. Forcing a lot of traffic across the Downtown grid, which already is very obstructed by on the East side, especially on any type of game day, is very impractical. You may be right about the columns...But, I only the final design will decide that.

I'll take my comments off the air...

We don't have to wait for a final design to know that there will be columns. You can't build a flyover without columns to hold it.

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We don't have to wait for a final design to know that there will be columns. You can't build a flyover without columns to hold it.

 

At the location of your concern, the direct connector runs between and immediately next to the other ramps.  I'm not sure we necessarily know that the design would require additional columns.

 

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At the location of your concern, the direct connector runs between and immediately next to the other ramps.  I'm not sure we necessarily know that the design would require additional columns.

 

 

You mean that perhaps the supports for the other ramps would extend out far enough that this additional ramp could just ride along without its own columns? Do you know of any freeway ramps where a configuration like this exists? It seems highly unusual to have a ramp without its own supports, when you consider the weight these have to carry (e.g. eighteen wheelers).

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You mean that perhaps the supports for the other ramps would extend out far enough that this additional ramp could just ride along without its own columns? Do you know of any freeway ramps where a configuration like this exists? It seems highly unusual to have a ramp without its own supports, when you consider the weight these have to carry (e.g. eighteen wheelers).

 

Yes.  Extending the supports out from both of the two adjacent ramps should not be a particularly challenging engineering feat.  We're not talking about cantilevering it.  We're talking about a support beam extending for the width of a one-lane ramp, supported on either end by the columns already necessary for the two adjoining ramps.

 

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Yes. Extending the supports out from both of the two adjacent ramps should not be a particularly challenging engineering feat. We're not talking about cantilevering it. We're talking about a support beam extending for the width of a one-lane ramp, supported on either end by the columns already necessary for the two adjoining ramps.

Those would have to be massive support beams. Do you know where such a configuration exists?

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  • 4 years later...
  • 7 months later...
On 1/9/2020 at 11:07 AM, Urban Monster said:

98788400-3348-4cc9-8b96-ed2b3b6efbc2.jpe

 

This banner needs to be put up all over the city. Murals, graffiti, signs, banners, tattoos, IDGAF....doesn't matter this needs to be everywhere....its time the lying, vile, corrupt douche-bag politicians and bureaucrats listen...they're going to destroy half of EaDo, part of Midtown, Northside, and just make Houston into one giant f*****n freeway. I'm so sick of it...Mayor Turner didn't like this project at first but now its seems like he's bowing down to the powers that be...pathetic...

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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 Bivins) — — The boundaries of downtown Houston will be erased over the next decade.

The Pierce Elevated, a stretch of Interstate 45 that cuts across the southern part of downtown will be removed. Supported by heavy-duty structural columns, the roadway has been a barrier between Downtown and Midtown. The ground-level space under the freeway is a loud and filthy place, often used over the years by the homeless as a bed and a bathroom.

Its removal means a grotesque fixture of blight leaves the city for good.

The Pierce Elevated posed as a barrier, restricting the positive flow of development momentum between Downtown and Midtown. Secondly, the freeway relocation will blur the eastern boundaries of downtown. Where will Downtown end and EaDo (the redeveloping district just east of downtown) begin? Opportunities to realign the western edge of downtown are emerging also.

Change is coming

Two decades from now, downtown Houston may be unrecognizable from today. By then, the central business district of Space City will boast a Green Loop — a five-mile pedestrian and bike circuit connecting downtown with adjoining neighborhoods, driverless cars. At least, this is the vision of downtown planners.

Currently encircled by Interstates 10, 45, and 69, the Houston downtown of tomorrow will no longer have those concrete thoroughfares separating the central core from the surrounding lower-density communities. The Central Business District will mesh perfectly with the other areas that were left behind when the freeways were built.

And Houston’s downtown of 2040 will have many more green oases including a grand public space similar to Klyde Warren Park in Dallas — a popular 5.2-acre park spanning over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway and connecting uptown with downtown Dallas — with traffic flowing underneath and people enjoying the outdoors above.

The downtown of Houston — currently the nation’s fourth largest city — will undergo a transformation thanks to the North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP), which provides a unique opportunity to bring together parts of Houston that were separated when the highways were built decades ago. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), through the Project, has identified seven billion dollars in capital investments to support mobility and improve highway safety — and bring a more vibrant pedestrian life to downtown Houston.

“The North Houston Highway Improvement Project represents a once-in-a-century chance to literally remake our central city, not just along the Pierce Elevated but around downtown and in areas to the north,” said architect Guy Hagstette, vice president, parks and civic projects, Kinder Foundation. Central Houston (a private, non-profit corporation), has worked for nearly a decade with TxDOT on managing the impact of the project and exploring opportunities with communities along the route. “The ‘Green Loop’ around downtown and a greenway along Little White Oak Bayou to Acres Homes being proposed by the Houston Parks Board are great examples.”

Hagstette added it is clearly an opportunity to replicate Dallas’ success with its internationally recognized Klyde Warren Park — only Houston’s version will be six times the scale (approximately 30 acres) and a part of the even bigger Green Loop.

“With three sports venues and the George R. Brown Convention Center nearby, the park can be a neighbor- hood park for EaDo, a great introduction for visitors to Houston and its bayou trails system, and a sorely needed venue for the city-wide celebrations that are outgrowing Discovery Green and Eleanor Tinsley Park,” Hagstette said.

Public and private city leaders are rethinking transit options based on the North Houston Highway Improvement Project, which calls for rebuilding the three highways encircling downtown and realigning Interstate 45 to the north and east.

Ric Campo: “Bridges Have To Be Fixed”

“All the freeways around the country generally go through the downtown area and Houston is no different,” said Ric Campo, the chief executive officer of Camden  Property Trust, and chairman of the Quality of Place Committee for the North Houston Highway Improvement Project.

“Here the freeways were built in the ’50s and ’60s. So today, when people think about downtown, they see it is a ring of freeways. You have I-45 on the west, the Pierce Elevated on the south side — which connects 45 to south 59 — and on the north side you have I-10. Because of the age of the freeways, a lot of bridges have to be fixed, but rather than fix them the way they are, TxDOT is going to make major changes in the freeways configuration.”

The relocation of these urban roadways will be monumental, like the changing of the course of mighty river along an international border. The boundaries of downtown Houston will never be the same. Prime urban real estate will be transformed. The road rerouting is similar to untangling a knot of twine.

“What’s going to happen,” Campo said, “is that 45 will be moved north adjacent to I-10 and side-by-side with 59 on the east side of downtown. 45 and 59 are going to be depressed and TxDOT will put a cap on it from George R. Brown Convention Center to the south and go all the way past the ballpark [Minute Maid Park stadium] to the north. There will be a green space park larger than Discovery Green put in place on the cap. That’s a game changer. On the south side, the Pierce Elevated will be abandoned and could be turned into a high-line park or other green space.”

The road work is not a dusty proposal sitting on a bureaucrat’s shelf. It will definitely happen, government officials say.

“What’s important is that the project is fully funded byTxDOT and it should start in 2020 and be finished in 2026 or 2027,” Campo said.

Houston2020BookFront-copy-1-205x300.jpeg The New Book by Ralph Bivins, Editor of Realty News Report
Available on Amazon

The road rebuilding will deliver strong economic benefits, officials say. HR&A Advisors, a consulting firm focused on real estate and economic development, analyzed the potential economic and community benefits of the plans for Houston. HR&A found that full implementation of the plan — ranging from highly activated regional parks to more intimate neighborhood gathering places and trails along the bayous to redeveloped green districts — would generate economic benefits of between $5.6 billion and $9 billion over twenty years. Implementation of the plan, HR&A says, will generate increases in the value of existing real estate assets, new real estate development, new visitor spending, and worker and resident attraction to central Houston.

Bob Eury, president of Central Houston Inc., said the Green Loop is the major recommendation of “Plan Downtown: Converging Culture, Lifestyle & Commerce.” The report is the result of fifteen months’ work with a very large, nineteen- member leadership group that was part of a 166-member steering committee.

“It’s fairly ambitious and is drawing the most attention,” Eury added. “TxDot is moving forward with major reconstruction of the highways downtown. Infrastructure improvements are needed, and it can become opportunity to redevelop edges of downtown, to better connect downtown and adjacent neighborhoods.”

The main lanes of Interstate 45 will be reconstructed to run parallel to Interstate 10 north and parallel Interstate 69 on the east side.

Then it turn and fall into the right of way of Interstate 45 toward Galveston. With this reconstruction, the Pierce Elevated would not be needed. “We still would have to have access to the west side of downtown; there would be smaller connector lanes to exits on the west side,” said Eury.

“Once the realignment is completed, the Pierce Elevated could go away altogether or could be repurposed into a linear green space and reconnect downtown with midtown, the Fourth Ward, and Freedmen’s Town, which were cut off in the early ‘60s when the freeways were constructed. On the west side by City Hall and Hobby Center, some of the buildings could be reoriented. There are some one hundred acres on the west side including the municipal courts, police, and fire, as well as the theater district. There is a tremendous amount of city-owned land in this area offering opportunities for new and redeveloped public and potentially private buildings,” Eury said.

Building a park on top, similar to the successful Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, would be a welcome amenity for resi dents. “On the east side, the new freeway will be below grade — in a trench with a cap over the top — so there could be an open area like Klyde Warren Park in Dallas,” Eury added. “The area in Houston contemplated would be considerably bigger with a larger amount of green space and it might be public space.” The Klyde Warren park achieved something else — a significant increase in property values as land near the park became valuable locations for high-rise development. The Dallas park was a launch pad, and it is now ringed with new development, much of it high-rise.

Another benefit: the state-funded improvements mean Houston could have both faster-moving traffic and cleaner air — counterintuitive as that sounds. Motionless cars stuck in traffic produce more emissions than traffic passing smoothly. The improvements in design are expected to increase speed on Inter- state 45 by twenty-five miles per hour, said Campo. “This would reduce the ‘smokestack effect’ that occurs when people are driving twenty-five mph slower,” he said. “Going that extra twenty-five miles faster improves Houston air so much that some say Houston could be in compliance with the Clean Air Act just from this project.”

Reconnecting Houston neighborhoods that were left behind by the highway construction is very important and so is the increase in parks and green space that will be a great addition to downtown. “It’s one more reason for companies to be attracted to a downtown location,” said downtown office broker Paula Bruns, vice president of Colvill Office Properties (which merged with Cushman & Wakefield in 2020.) “Downtown already has significant amenities — restaurants, hotels and apartments and it is very walkable. Removing the Pierce Elevated will make downtown more attractive for tenants, who have become more focused on workplace environments.”

(Excerpt from Houston 2020: America’s Boom Town – an Extreme Close Up by Ralph Bivins. Published by Fifth Estate Media. Available on Amazon. )


Update: The Texas Department of Public Transportation just released its environmental analysis of the freeway rebuilding plan and a 30-day comment period is beginning. Some people are concerned about the eminent domain takings and a neighborhood group has voiced opposition to  the project, which will take years to complete.


Sept. 29, 2020 Realty News Report Copyright 2020.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Two thoughts:

 

So I just want to ask a question if anyone has any insight. Considering the upcoming election, do y'all think an increase in Dem voters and the reflection that will occur in Austin might give TxDot pause? Given that Dan Crenshaw is now running ads about Clean Energy and Green Communities, I'm not sure widening a freeway is really at the top of the now-typical Texas voter in a metro area.  I know TxDot is tecccchnically not a political entity but obviously they are part of Abbott's administration and comply with his agendas. 

 

Kind of like the pandemic data that was brought up in the 288 thread, it seems like most of TxDot's assumptions and data were pre-COVID. Given the budget constraints COVID has forced on the state, combined with the altered transportation patterns and flows caused by COVID, shouldn't a new study be done? While I think work from home will fall away to most people going back to work, some of those work from home people will be working from home permanently. And some may have moved closer to their jobs during this pandemic, obviating using 45 or another freeway. So shouldn't COVID, for state budgetary reasons and traffic concerns (will we ever even come close to reaching TxDot's traffic estimations) put a dent in this plan? Like, Texas' budget is eating shit: https://www.npr.org/2020/08/03/895386256/in-texas-all-state-agencies-asked-to-pare-budgets-due-to-covid-19

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2 hours ago, X.R. said:

Two thoughts:

 

So I just want to ask a question if anyone has any insight. Considering the upcoming election, do y'all think an increase in Dem voters and the reflection that will occur in Austin might give TxDot pause? Given that Dan Crenshaw is now running ads about Clean Energy and Green Communities, I'm not sure widening a freeway is really at the top of the now-typical Texas voter in a metro area.  I know TxDot is tecccchnically not a political entity but obviously they are part of Abbott's administration and comply with his agendas. 

 

Kind of like the pandemic data that was brought up in the 288 thread, it seems like most of TxDot's assumptions and data were pre-COVID. Given the budget constraints COVID has forced on the state, combined with the altered transportation patterns and flows caused by COVID, shouldn't a new study be done? While I think work from home will fall away to most people going back to work, some of those work from home people will be working from home permanently. And some may have moved closer to their jobs during this pandemic, obviating using 45 or another freeway. So shouldn't COVID, for state budgetary reasons and traffic concerns (will we ever even come close to reaching TxDot's traffic estimations) put a dent in this plan? Like, Texas' budget is eating shit: https://www.npr.org/2020/08/03/895386256/in-texas-all-state-agencies-asked-to-pare-budgets-due-to-covid-19

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/constructors who are conservative by nature (most of us are, unlike our Architect friends)...sure they may have some outdated views on transportation but they are evolving for the better and more quickly than the state legislature...the Short Course presentations had almost no politics, it was refreshing in the current environment

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21 hours ago, MexAmerican_Moose said:

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/constructors who are conservative by nature (most of us are, unlike our Architect friends)...sure they may have some outdated views on transportation but they are evolving for the better and more quickly than the state legislature...the Short Course presentations had almost no politics, it was refreshing in the current environment

 

is the content of the meeting public?

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