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Culberson and METRO reach compromise


Slick Vik

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The fact that you compare them at all is laughable. Afton oaks single handedly stopped a major transportation project from occurring. What did midtown do? Yes the pierce elevated is a barrier but midtown residents aren't the reason it's coming down, downtown power brokers are. It benefits midtown but ordinary residents had zero impact on this decision. But keep trying.

 

either way a rich and small subset of people are making life more difficult for other, mainly poor people in their own self interests.

 

not building light rail through AO makes it harder for everyone to move around Houston, but keeps those folks living in AO happy because there is no rail on richmond.

 

realigning i45 will remove apartments, homeless shelters, neighborhoods, bars, restaurants, and reduce local connectivity east/west along the current 59/288 corridor all the way from Southmore to Lyons, all for the benefit of a few power brokers in downtown.

 

you know, you're right, it is laughable that they are compared at all, of the two, this realignment of i45 is far more egregious, comparing LR to it would be to trivialize the negative impact of the i45 realignment.

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  • 2 weeks later...

either way a rich and small subset of people are making life more difficult for other, mainly poor people in their own self interests.

 

not building light rail through AO makes it harder for everyone to move around Houston, but keeps those folks living in AO happy because there is no rail on richmond.

 

realigning i45 will remove apartments, homeless shelters, neighborhoods, bars, restaurants, and reduce local connectivity east/west along the current 59/288 corridor all the way from Southmore to Lyons, all for the benefit of a few power brokers in downtown.

 

you know, you're right, it is laughable that they are compared at all, of the two, this realignment of i45 is far more egregious, comparing LR to it would be to trivialize the negative impact of the i45 realignment.

 

Your last statement is dead on, but at all what was being discussed.

 

IronTiger was trying to make the same point you were, but he was placing the motivation of the I45 "re-imagining" on the midtown residents, as every article written about this boondoggle has since the plans were released.  This is the public justification, but the real driver behind this move are big money players in the downtown construction scene.  It has nothing to do with the residents of midtown's wishes, though for some removing the "barrier" between mid and downtown would be a nice touch, because they have NO pull at the TEXDOT level!  Hell, as a midtown resident myself, I can't stand the new plan as it destroys access to Allen Pkwy and Memorial Dr for commuters (especially from the south and east) and limits freeway access to midtown!

 

The quote you pulled wasn't calling the merits of the I45 change, rather it was rebutting an argument that AO has been justified being the ultimate NIMBY's (blocking a rail line that would cause limited interruption to their daily lives but vastly improve the entire city's transit mobility, not to mention provide LONG needed repairs to Richmond) because neighborhoods like midtown are doing the same thing.  The truth is, midtown isn't doing a damn thing, though some residents find benefit in the proposed changes.  In fact, it couldn't be a much worse example considering that midtown was a part of the original rail line!

 

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Your last statement is dead on, but at all what was being discussed.

 

IronTiger was trying to make the same point you were, but he was placing the motivation of the I45 "re-imagining" on the midtown residents, as every article written about this boondoggle has since the plans were released.  This is the public justification, but the real driver behind this move are big money players in the downtown construction scene.  It has nothing to do with the residents of midtown's wishes, though for some removing the "barrier" between mid and downtown would be a nice touch, because they have NO pull at the TEXDOT level!  Hell, as a midtown resident myself, I can't stand the new plan as it destroys access to Allen Pkwy and Memorial Dr for commuters (especially from the south and east) and limits freeway access to midtown!

 

The quote you pulled wasn't calling the merits of the I45 change, rather it was rebutting an argument that AO has been justified being the ultimate NIMBY's (blocking a rail line that would cause limited interruption to their daily lives but vastly improve the entire city's transit mobility, not to mention provide LONG needed repairs to Richmond) because neighborhoods like midtown are doing the same thing.  The truth is, midtown isn't doing a damn thing, though some residents find benefit in the proposed changes.  In fact, it couldn't be a much worse example considering that midtown was a part of the original rail line!

 

 

Thanks for the response, I should have qualified who I was calling being the 'rich' in the i45 realignment. those people being the developers and land owners downtown who stand to gain the most by developing land they own that would become more valuable without the pierce there.

 

basically, anyone who lives around the 59/288 corridor is going to suffer from this. Whether they live in an old $30,000 shotgun, or a new $300,000 townhome, their income and monetary worth relative to the land owners and developers in downtown is the same, we're all poor, and our mobility is going to be reduced for their monetary benefit.

 

We've all got our individual needs that are going to be impacted, as someone said in another thread when I brought up the people who come from the south heading for Allen Parkway exits, the number of people affected by this loss of access is so small as to be inconsequential. I'm sure that the number of people in your situation, trying to access AP from midtown, is just as small. If you take each of those mobility issues as their own scenario it does seem like choking on a gnat while trying to eat a steak. Look at these mobility issues all together, you have a very large and very diverse group of people who are negatively impacted, all of the sudden you see that the gnat you thought you were choking on wasn't a gnat, but you are actually choking on the steak.

 

As crappy as it is, I go to that randalls for my grocery needs, I have a storage unit in midtown that I visit on a weekly basis, I go into downtown daily (for work or pleasure), I go to locations near buffalo bayou inside the loop, access for me to all of this stuff is going to be decimated. All because some fat cats who have the ears of txdot are wanting to become fatter cats.

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interesting. How long do we have to wait for the re-vote?

 

I wonder if this lawsuit is a nonfactor or whether is can halt progress. I thought the "bus-line" construction was being done a certain way where rail can go on top even after the completion.

 

At the moment they can't do that. Its interesting that they are going ahead with construction after this agreement. Since they can't take the rider banning federal funding off the Budget until next year I imagine that they will just build as is and then secure funding to transform it into a rail line at a later date.

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  • 4 months later...

I'm curious to see how the routes will be designed, the frequency of buses, and the time estimates between the two endpoints.

 

from the article.

 

Utility work along Post Oak began earlier this year and technical design of the bus lanes is expected within 60 days, Breeding said.

Breeding said officials hope to choose a contractor to build the lanes and stations in late February or March. That would mean the dedicated lanes would be completed in 2018.

 

 

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Man Culberson is a total waste of life. Sorry to be so cruel but the guy is a total *&^%$#^&* for a lack of better words. How do you prevent a transportation agency from operating in the 4th major city in America because a small stretch of where your district lies doesn't want light rail running through their neighborhood? Why not just work with the agency to plan a better route? But to go to the lengths he has to prevent progress in this city is beyond words for me. I wish I could meet this guy and give him my two cents.

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Man Culberson is a total waste of life. Sorry to be so cruel but the guy is a total *&^%$#^&* for a lack of better words. How do you prevent a transportation agency from operating in the 4th major city in America because a small stretch of where your district lies doesn't want light rail running through their neighborhood? Why not just work with the agency to plan a better route? But to go to the lengths he has to prevent progress in this city is beyond words for me. I wish I could be this guy and give him my two cents.

 

Culberson is symptomatic of a pervasive attitude in Houston - that the government exists solely to serve one's own interests, and anything it does that either does not serve those interests, or run counter to them, must be opposed with all available resources. There's no sense of common good or sacrifice.

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Culberson is symptomatic of a pervasive attitude in Houston - that the government exists solely to serve one's own interests, and anything it does that either does not serve those interests, or run counter to them, must be opposed with all available resources. There's no sense of common good or sacrifice.

You know, I completely agree. That seems to be the attitude of the majority of Houstonians. The good thing is I see that slowly changing but still distant.

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I've said it in other threads, but give it another 10 years, maybe it won't even take that long.

 

For the past few years, and even currently, we're seeing a surge of density being build around the red line, others think this growth is circumstantial. I don't agree, but whatever. 

 

When this same density starts growing around the green/purple line, then developers will come around to see that there is significant money to be made around the rail lines. As land values go up around the rail lines, so taxes will go up too, this is when politicians will come around pretty substantially. Especially considering no one wants tax rates to go up, the only way to increase the amount of money collected via tax is to make land value higher.

 

So once this happens, then we'll start seeing more activity, and at a more aggressive rate, and for more than just light rail.

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I've said it in other threads, but give it another 10 years, maybe it won't even take that long.

 

For the past few years, and even currently, we're seeing a surge of density being build around the red line, others think this growth is circumstantial. I don't agree, but whatever. 

 

When this same density starts growing around the green/purple line, then developers will come around to see that there is significant money to be made around the rail lines. As land values go up around the rail lines, so taxes will go up too, this is when politicians will come around pretty substantially. Especially considering no one wants tax rates to go up, the only way to increase the amount of money collected via tax is to make land value higher.

 

So once this happens, then we'll start seeing more activity, and at a more aggressive rate, and for more than just light rail.

EXACTLY! 

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I've said it in other threads, but give it another 10 years, maybe it won't even take that long.

 

For the past few years, and even currently, we're seeing a surge of density being build around the red line, others think this growth is circumstantial. I don't agree, but whatever. 

 

When this same density starts growing around the green/purple line, then developers will come around to see that there is significant money to be made around the rail lines. As land values go up around the rail lines, so taxes will go up too, this is when politicians will come around pretty substantially. Especially considering no one wants tax rates to go up, the only way to increase the amount of money collected via tax is to make land value higher.

 

So once this happens, then we'll start seeing more activity, and at a more aggressive rate, and for more than just light rail.

 

Popular opinion will also change more rapidly as traffic becomes more and more unbearable under the current transportation system.

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Los Angeles is evidence of this

Enh, L.A. is building a large mass transit system, but it still looks to be an extremely expensive venture with dubious ridership (based on mass transit/total transit use of other cities). Besides, Los Angeles never upgraded its freeway system significantly, not like the level that Houston did, so it's unfair to say that L.A. is already maxed out on their freeway system, because they could improve it significantly. 

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Enh, L.A. is building a large mass transit system, but it still looks to be an extremely expensive venture with dubious ridership (based on mass transit/total transit use of other cities). Besides, Los Angeles never upgraded its freeway system significantly, not like the level that Houston did, so it's unfair to say that L.A. is already maxed out on their freeway system, because they could improve it significantly.

Have you been to LA? Their freeways have been like our recent Katy freeway expansion for a long time, but still gridlock almost 24/7. They have no choice but to invest in rail at this point. And they're doing it as fast as possible. In fact there's an upcoming referendum to accelerate construction of new rail lines even more.

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The L.A. highways have barely been updated (sans maintenance issues and other modest improvements) in comparison to the Houston freeway system. I can see that their highways have many lanes, but they tend to have a "overbuilt for the 1960s" look like I-10 just inside the Loop. How many of their freeways have been demolished and rebuilt, like extensive construction projects to the Katy, Southwest, Gulf, or Northwest?

 

post-4782-0-32091200-1447163137_thumb.pn

 

Of course, L.A. probably would have greater resistance to any freeway widening being California and all, so maybe rail does seem like the "only option". That doesn't make it actually the only option nor is success guaranteed.

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The L.A. highways have barely been updated (sans maintenance issues and other modest improvements) in comparison to the Houston freeway system. I can see that their highways have many lanes, but they tend to have a "overbuilt for the 1960s" look like I-10 just inside the Loop. How many of their freeways have been demolished and rebuilt, like extensive construction projects to the Katy, Southwest, Gulf, or Northwest?

Screen shot 2015-11-10 at 7.44.00 AM.png

Of course, L.A. probably would have greater resistance to any freeway widening being California and all, so maybe rail does seem like the "only option". That doesn't make it actually the only option nor is success guaranteed.

What are we doing to our freeways besides adding more lanes? And many places don't believe in extensive feeder roads so that's no surprise. They probably just can't seize any more land so expansion is no longer an option, and realistically how many lanes can you build before reality hits? Should they double deck, triple deck? What is the limit? That's one of the most car oriented places on earth and they've figured out that they need rail. They're even converting bus ways to rail. It's only a matter of time in Houston until it hits its day of reckoning.

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Honestly, one of the best things we could do to our freeways is demolish every mile of feeder within the loop. It's a failed model that simply increases weaving and traffic friction leading to congestion. It may have been politically expedient in the '50s, but it's a shame that we weren't able to move on as was proposed in the early 2000s.

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it would be impossible to remove feeder roads. It would have been impossible to do so 15 years ago as well.

 

There are rare exceptions where the feeder could be removed without heavily impacting business, or residences, but for the most part, if you take a drive around town, you can easily see how many businesses and residential areas are accessible exclusively via the feeder roads.

 

Our town, our commerce, so much of it is designed around the feeder roads and the commitment that they will always be there, whether you are looking exclusively inside the loop or not, it's not a feasible solution. I'll warrant that's why it never got out of the proposal stages in the early 2000s.

 

Whether it's the better model or not, it doesn't matter at this point, we're stuck with them.

 

Heck, weren't we in the process (and still in the process) of adding feeder roads to I10 near the heights?

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it would be impossible to remove feeder roads. It would have been impossible to do so 15 years ago as well.

 

There are rare exceptions where the feeder could be removed without heavily impacting business, or residences, but for the most part, if you take a drive around town, you can easily see how many businesses and residential areas are accessible exclusively via the feeder roads.

 

Our town, our commerce, so much of it is designed around the feeder roads and the commitment that they will always be there, whether you are looking exclusively inside the loop or not, it's not a feasible solution. I'll warrant that's why it never got out of the proposal stages in the early 2000s.

 

Whether it's the better model or not, it doesn't matter at this point, we're stuck with them.

 

Heck, weren't we in the process (and still in the process) of adding feeder roads to I10 near the heights?

 

First, the early 2000s proposal was for construction on a go-forth basis, and not for existing highways or plans.

 

Second, that's the sort of thinking that's got us stuck with these things in the first place - it'll be difficult, so let's not do it. It's also a bit short-sighted in the way of prioritization - if so many residences or businesses are not accessible without the feeders, then why aren't we looking at fixing that? Why aren't we setting the groundwork to make such a thing feasible? At this point, it's not a lack of funding (especially if it's a 30-40 year project), it's a lack of vision.

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I'm not trying to say this in a snarky way, but I obviously lack the ability to see freeways in Houston without the feeders. How could it be done?

 

I mean, yeah, you can say that the groundwork needs to be set, and the lack of vision, well, give me some vision. give me some groundwork.

 

And with the way most of the exits and entrances to freeways are built these days to access the feeders, how does congestion on the feeder translate to congestion on the freeway? on an exit ramp that has been designed in the last few decades, when's the last time traffic has been stacked up into the freeway allowing feeder traffic to affect traffic on the freeway?

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Louisiana doesn't have true frontage roads, it has access roads that are two way that parallel the highway. So you not only get the experience of exiting a short exit that immediately comes to a stop (which can easily spill  back onto freeways), you often get a second light just after you turn to allow access to businesses. In many ways, the set-up on I-10 West was a bit like that (through Old Katy Road), even without the additional complication of the railroad (which was torn out in 1997 if my chronology I was told was true).

 

The placement of the ramps matter a lot, too, which is why the ramps in urban areas tend to be of the "X" interchanges instead of diamond interchanges. (see link), which puts weaving on the slower frontage roads instead of the highway. 

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It's my experience that places without feeders tend to have the same sort of congestion you think of sitting at the light on the feeder...backed up on to the highway.  

 

I was precisely imagining exiting 'the 405' going to john wayne airport. even at off peak times you are sitting still in main lanes of the freeway waiting for the light to cycle so you can go. meanwhile, because it's off-peak, the traffic is whizzing by in the left lanes. all it takes is one person texting and boom.

 

That's but one example of pretty much every exit from 'the 405' and 'the 5' I can think of. I never lived in Orange County California, but I've spent enough times there (the mothership for my company is there, so I'll be there for weeks at a time at least once or twice a year) to know, a system without feeders isn't better. It's different, but it's not better, and going to a different system just because it's different, that's no reason to do it. In many ways, our system is better.

 

Our way is at least more convenient, and that's a big win in my book.

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I'm not trying to say this in a snarky way, but I obviously lack the ability to see freeways in Houston without the feeders. How could it be done?

 

I mean, yeah, you can say that the groundwork needs to be set, and the lack of vision, well, give me some vision. give me some groundwork.

 

And with the way most of the exits and entrances to freeways are built these days to access the feeders, how does congestion on the feeder translate to congestion on the freeway? on an exit ramp that has been designed in the last few decades, when's the last time traffic has been stacked up into the freeway allowing feeder traffic to affect traffic on the freeway?

 

How? Reduction in the number of exits to begin with, along with the construction of higher-capacity interchanges like SPUIs and DDIs. Identification of areas that were isolated by freeway construction and using TxDOT funds (that would be spent on the feeders anyway) to create distributive routes to these areas. It may be advisable to keep the existing feeders in certain instances, but not as the preferred alternative in all circumstances.

 

The congestion I'm concerned about isn't so much backing up from signals, but from the amount of conflicts that are created from the weaving that comes about when the only urban interchange design available to you is the diamond. Even the X design leads to weaving as it does not control for drivers' varied preferences in merging distance. This can be seen on the Katy Freeway in the Energy Corridor every morning.

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First, the early 2000s proposal was for construction on a go-forth basis, and not for existing highways or plans.

 

Second, that's the sort of thinking that's got us stuck with these things in the first place - it'll be difficult, so let's not do it. It's also a bit short-sighted in the way of prioritization - if so many residences or businesses are not accessible without the feeders, then why aren't we looking at fixing that? Why aren't we setting the groundwork to make such a thing feasible? At this point, it's not a lack of funding (especially if it's a 30-40 year project), it's a lack of vision.

 

There's nothing to fix. Most of the businesses on the feeders have no other access, unless you buy up whatever is behind them to build a new road for access.

 

I personally think cities without feeder roads are excruciatingly hard to get around in. If you get off at the wrong exit, it cna take hours to find a way back on to the freeway. Houston also lacks the large arterial streets that exist in LA, and carry large numbers of cars. As mentioned elsewhere, we developed around the feeder concept, and it's far too late to change.

 

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The reason why we have so many feeders is that some of our freeways were built along old state and US highway corridors instead of new facilities being built near or parallel to the old roads. When these 2 lane and 4 lane divided highways were upgraded to freeways, businesses and residences along those highways that weren't condemned for the freeway still needed access, and that's one reason why feeders are so popular. Examples of this are outside the loop for the most part and include SH 249 from the Beltway northward, I-45 North from Shepherd Rd. to Conroe, US 59 from Jensen to Loop 494, 610 through Bellaire, and the Katy Freeway from 610 to Katy.

 

288 was one of the few freeways built here without continuous feeders, though that would've been a different story had the state built it upon Almeda Rd. as once planned.

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I was precisely imagining exiting 'the 405' going to john wayne airport. even at off peak times you are sitting still in main lanes of the freeway waiting for the light to cycle so you can go. meanwhile, because it's off-peak, the traffic is whizzing by in the left lanes. all it takes is one person texting and boom.

 

That's but one example of pretty much every exit from 'the 405' and 'the 5' I can think of. I never lived in Orange County California, but I've spent enough times there (the mothership for my company is there, so I'll be there for weeks at a time at least once or twice a year) to know, a system without feeders isn't better. It's different, but it's not better, and going to a different system just because it's different, that's no reason to do it. In many ways, our system is better.

 

Our way is at least more convenient, and that's a big win in my book.

 

I'll second all of that based on my time in OC.  I also feel bad for all the houses pressed up close to the freeway in OC and CA in general. Yes, they may have a sound wall, but they're still getting the air pollution.  One of my earliest blog posts was on the benefits of frontage roads, and one of the biggest is a commercial noise and pollution buffer zone between freeways and residential areas.  That also makes expansions much easier with less opposition.  Think about almost all of Houston's big fights over freeway projects, and it's where they go through residential areas (usually without feeders - like the 59 trench and 45N by the Heights).  And then frontage roads also enable tons of businesses to get visibility they otherwise couldn't afford and they just make navigation a whole lot easier.  Good backup alternative for construction and accident closures as well.  They may not be beautiful, but they're incredibly functional.

 

http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2005/08/sprawl-and-benefits-of-frontage-roads.html 

 

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There's nothing to fix. Most of the businesses on the feeders have no other access, unless you buy up whatever is behind them to build a new road for access.

 

I personally think cities without feeder roads are excruciatingly hard to get around in. If you get off at the wrong exit, it cna take hours to find a way back on to the freeway. Houston also lacks the large arterial streets that exist in LA, and carry large numbers of cars. As mentioned elsewhere, we developed around the feeder concept, and it's far too late to change.

 

 

I've got no problem with that strategy. I also think we need to have a comprehensive arterial plan in Houston - this is something that we've put off for far too long.

 

I think "hours" is a bit dramatic, wouldn't you say? Besides, with GPS, that's not nearly the issue that it would have been 20 years ago.

 

The reason why we have so many feeders is that some of our freeways were built along old state and US highway corridors instead of new facilities being built near or parallel to the old roads. When these 2 lane and 4 lane divided highways were upgraded to freeways, businesses and residences along those highways that weren't condemned for the freeway still needed access, and that's one reason why feeders are so popular. Examples of this are outside the loop for the most part and include SH 249 from the Beltway northward, I-45 North from Shepherd Rd. to Conroe, US 59 from Jensen to Loop 494, 610 through Bellaire, and the Katy Freeway from 610 to Katy.

 

288 was one of the few freeways built here without continuous feeders, though that would've been a different story had the state built it upon Almeda Rd. as once planned.

 

That wasn't really it, though - it was more the influence of rural landowners, small-to-medium sized business owners and developers in highway planning. If it were simply about maintaining frontage for existing businesses, then you'd see feeders all across the US - but you don't.

 

It was easier for the state highway department to get land donations (saving them the cost of takings via purchase or eminent domain) if they promised to put frontage roads next to the freeway. Given how powerful these interests have historically been in state politics, this became policy, rather than something done as one-offs where necessary. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if the main motivation were simply bureaucratic inertia - since you're likely going to have to plan for them in many circumstances, why not all circumstances?

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I'll second all of that based on my time in OC. I also feel bad for all the houses pressed up close to the freeway in OC and CA in general. Yes, they may have a sound wall, but they're still getting the air pollution. One of my earliest blog posts was on the benefits of frontage roads, and one of the biggest is a commercial noise and pollution buffer zone between freeways and residential areas. That also makes expansions much easier with less opposition. Think about almost all of Houston's big fights over freeway projects, and it's where they go through residential areas (usually without feeders - like the 59 trench and 45N by the Heights). And then frontage roads also enable tons of businesses to get visibility they otherwise couldn't afford and they just make navigation a whole lot easier. Good backup alternative for construction and accident closures as well. They may not be beautiful, but they're incredibly functional.

http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2005/08/sprawl-and-benefits-of-frontage-roads.html

Do you not think the houses just off 610 don't get air pollution because of 2-3 feeder lanes? The effects of immediate air pollution affect far beyond that. That's a bad argument.

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I'll second all of that based on my time in OC. I also feel bad for all the houses pressed up close to the freeway in OC and CA in general. Yes, they may have a sound wall, but they're still getting the air pollution. One of my earliest blog posts was on the benefits of frontage roads, and one of the biggest is a commercial noise and pollution buffer zone between freeways and residential areas. That also makes expansions much easier with less opposition. Think about almost all of Houston's big fights over freeway projects, and it's where they go through residential areas (usually without feeders - like the 59 trench and 45N by the Heights). And then frontage roads also enable tons of businesses to get visibility they otherwise couldn't afford and they just make navigation a whole lot easier. Good backup alternative for construction and accident closures as well. They may not be beautiful, but they're incredibly functional.

http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2005/08/sprawl-and-benefits-of-frontage-roads.html

Do you think the benefits of feeder roads depend on how "urbanized" the area around it is though? I mean, obviously, since the new GP doesn't have them when it crosses through rural areas, but obviously the development will catch up with the GP like in Cinco Ranch.

Would you argue that CR adapted to the lack of feeder roads adequately, or do you think that the development has pushed for a greater need for feeder roads?

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Do you not think the houses just off 610 don't get air pollution because of 2-3 feeder lanes? The effects of immediate air pollution affect far beyond that. That's a bad argument.

 

Well, one could argue that the distance does help slightly (I still feel a bit sorry for those houses that front highways like 290 or 10, and then when it gets widened, they still have to go), but in a weird way, frontage roads do protect residential areas. When there's no frontage road, for commercial spaces, it becomes useless to put anything facing the highway because there's no access to it, so houses are built instead. With frontage roads, it arguably creates demand for commercial spaces. Yes, I know there's the issue of "sign clutter", but in the end, most of the immediate air pollution is absorbed by parking lots or highway side restaurants (which is still not a place of living), and houses are tucked behind the commercial establishments. And of course, the visibility drives up land values for commercial establishments, which leads to more tax income, which (hopefully) leads to a better quality of life without sacrificing much.

 

To me, that's a win.

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Do you not think the houses just off 610 don't get air pollution because of 2-3 feeder lanes? The effects of immediate air pollution affect far beyond that. That's a bad argument.

 

The buffer is the combination of feeder lanes plus the commercial development along the feeder, usually a big parking lot combined with a big box store or strip center (or office towers).  The residential ends up at least a couple hundred feet from the freeway, which gets outside the worst of the pollution plume.

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Do you think the benefits of feeder roads depend on how "urbanized" the area around it is though? I mean, obviously, since the new GP doesn't have them when it crosses through rural areas, but obviously the development will catch up with the GP like in Cinco Ranch.

Would you argue that CR adapted to the lack of feeder roads adequately, or do you think that the development has pushed for a greater need for feeder roads?

 

I have not been out to Cinco Ranch, so I can't comment. I know they decided to do the GP without feeders, mainly for aesthetic reasons (they wanted a "nature drive" like a lot of northeast freeways), but I'm sure it also saved plenty of money (180 miles of feeders is substantial) and increases revenue by forcing people to pay the tolls rather than plug along the feeder (like routinely happens along Beltway 8).

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The buffer is the combination of feeder lanes plus the commercial development along the feeder, usually a big parking lot combined with a big box store or strip center (or office towers). The residential ends up at least a couple hundred feet from the freeway, which gets outside the worst of the pollution plume.

There isn't always commercial development between houses and the feeder.

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Feeder roads aren't nice to look at, but that can be easily remedied by adding dense foliage between the freeway and the feeder.  

Not too dense, though, otherwise you'll impede sight lines and then have a bunch of auto dealers down your neck, if you're that division lead for TxDOT.

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There isn't always commercial development between houses and the feeder.

 

Usually there is, but I agree it's not ideal when housing is close to the freeway. In CA, that is very common.  In Houston, it's pretty uncommon.  The feeder provides some spacing, and the usual commercial development provides even more in most cases.  The most valuable use of land along a feeder is almost always commercial.  If residential is there, it's often because of zoning (in places outside of Houston, like Bellaire with 610) or deed restrictions.

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It's my experience that places without feeders tend to have the same sort of congestion you think of sitting at the light on the feeder...backed up on to the highway.

You get this in Houston WITH the feeders. There is just bad traffic sometimes.

My friend from LA was saying the feeders along the Katy are like two freeways. People fly 60-70 down them. When you exit you often have to go that fast to make it to the right lane. I've seen some dumb shit happen with people exiting and needing to make it across. I think we would have been better off building without feeders and pushing the local commercial traffic away from the freeway and to arterial streets.

It is too late for most areas now, but I hate that they added feeders to I 10 near the Heights, along parts of 288 in Pearland, some parts of the new Grand Parkway.

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I'll second all of that based on my time in OC. I also feel bad for all the houses pressed up close to the freeway in OC and CA in general. Yes, they may have a sound wall, but they're still getting the air pollution. One of my earliest blog posts was on the benefits of frontage roads, and one of the biggest is a commercial noise and pollution buffer zone between freeways and residential areas. That also makes expansions much easier with less opposition. Think about almost all of Houston's big fights over freeway projects, and it's where they go through residential areas (usually without feeders - like the 59 trench and 45N by the Heights). And then frontage roads also enable tons of businesses to get visibility they otherwise couldn't afford and they just make navigation a whole lot easier. Good backup alternative for construction and accident closures as well. They may not be beautiful, but they're incredibly functional.

http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2005/08/sprawl-and-benefits-of-frontage-roads.html

There are so many areas in Houston where there are neighborhoods and apartment complexes right on the feeder road, which is right next to the freeway. I would say that is worse.

Do you think the benefits of feeder roads depend on how "urbanized" the area around it is though? I mean, obviously, since the new GP doesn't have them when it crosses through rural areas, but obviously the development will catch up with the GP like in Cinco Ranch.

Would you argue that CR adapted to the lack of feeder roads adequately, or do you think that the development has pushed for a greater need for feeder roads?

The problem with traffic in Cinco is that the east west streets are only four lanes instead of six. Also, the GP is only four lanes. There is enough space in between the mainlanes to widen it to 8, which would be enough. But, that will probably be a new toll in the future. I like the look the no feeders give in CR.

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