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Culberson and METRO reach compromise


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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.

It's not just in bellaire. Much of 610 is like that actually in Houston city limits.

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Great news! Seems that Metro is building up momentum for a new bonding authority in 2017. They have done some great work in reimagining the bus lines and lining up political support. The 90A commuter

Metro's proposal to Culbertson should be...   If you agree to get the F out of the way, we'll agree to not run you over with a bus.   Another election is a complete waste of money.

HOW HAS NO ONE REALIZED WE DERAILED A TRAIN THREAD WITH A HIGHWAY TOPIC?! This has never happened.

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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.

 

So now sprawl is environmentally friendly???

 

Without feeder roads such development would be much more likely to occur in neighborhood centers and downtown areas in more dense, walkable, shorter drive districts thus reducing the "pollution plume" in the first place. Don't get me wrong, feeder roads do make way finding more straightforward, and they're a Houston way of life, but let's not be afraid to consider another alternative.

 

The answer is rarely 100/0 of one choice over another. Sometimes feeder roads are a better design, sometimes exits directly to perpendicular thoroughfares would be more appropriate. I'd say it's all about the last word in the title of this thread--compromise.   

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So now sprawl is environmentally friendly???

 

Without feeder roads such development would be much more likely to occur in neighborhood centers and downtown areas in more dense, walkable, shorter drive districts thus reducing the "pollution plume" in the first place.

 

Do you have any evidence to support this claim?

 

Edited by Houston19514
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It's not just in bellaire. Much of 610 is like that actually in Houston city limits.

 

Garden Oaks/Oak Forest looks like that, but that may just be it--deed limits and restrictions. East of 45, it looks like the same case originally, but many of those houses have been converted to freeway-facing commercial establishments. Either way, when you consider all the freeways (not just 610) in Houston, the vast majority faces commercial establishments. It's not quite that way in Los Angeles.

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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 number I've seen used for increased incidents of people who get asthma is 1000 yards and for people who already have asthma 2 miles is the distance for increased attacks.

 

so shade an area 1000' away from freeways. both with and without feeders. do a count of residences in the shaded areas.

 

You shouldn't even need to calculate the data to know that the number of residences in that shaded area is higher without feeders. 

 

You're right though, whether you live next to a freeway with no feeder (20 yards from freeway shoulder), or next to a feeder (50 yards from freeway shoulder), or behind a big box store (500 yards from freeway shoulder), you have a higher likelihood of getting asthma, but in the locations with feeders, there are less residences in that area.

 

So yeah, it sucks if you have to live next to a freeway under any conditions, but feeders provide us all with an overall healthier society.

 

 

So now sprawl is environmentally friendly??? 

 

 

No, feeders provide for an overall healthier society.

 

sprawl is in every city that grew up with freeways, not just cities that grew up with freeways that have feeders. Sprawl is not going away. Density will improve in houston as mass transit improves, but sprawl isn't going away. Maybe if every car vanished over night.

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they do create pollution as well, but the huge big box stores, malls, and office buildings that line the feeders, these are the buffers.

 

It's far more common for freeways with feeders to have commercial developments on the feeders and extending back from the freeway a few hundred yards.

 

It's far more common for freeways without feeders to have homes build right up to within tens of yards of the freeway.

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Traffic on the feeders is far less than on the mainlanes (usually), but the point is the buffers that frontage roads foster.

 

High-traffic commercial development is often noisier than a freeway with a sound barrier (easy to construct when the funds for feeders are freed up). Likewise, it's generally more pleasant to live next to a sound wall than it is to live next to the loading area of a strip center.

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High-traffic commercial development is often noisier than a freeway with a sound barrier (easy to construct when the funds for feeders are freed up). Likewise, it's generally more pleasant to live next to a sound wall than it is to live next to the loading area of a strip center.

 

I'm just going to flat out disagree with that.  A few backside delivery trucks during the business day don't make that much noise (and almost none at night) - certainly compared to the continuous rumble of freeway traffic, 18-wheeler air-brakes, or firetruck and police sirens screaming by.  And the benefits of the air pollution buffer far outweigh any noise.

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The number I've seen used for increased incidents of people who get asthma is 1000 yards and for people who already have asthma 2 miles is the distance for increased attacks.

so shade an area 1000' away from freeways. both with and without feeders. do a count of residences in the shaded areas.

You shouldn't even need to calculate the data to know that the number of residences in that shaded area is higher without feeders.

You're right though, whether you live next to a freeway with no feeder (20 yards from freeway shoulder), or next to a feeder (50 yards from freeway shoulder), or behind a big box store (500 yards from freeway shoulder), you have a higher likelihood of getting asthma, but in the locations with feeders, there are less residences in that area.

So yeah, it sucks if you have to live next to a freeway under any conditions, but feeders provide us all with an overall healthier society.

No, feeders provide for an overall healthier society.

sprawl is in every city that grew up with freeways, not just cities that grew up with freeways that have feeders. Sprawl is not going away. Density will improve in houston as mass transit improves, but sprawl isn't going away. Maybe if every car vanished over night.

Not sure how feeders provide a healthier society. They encourage people to drive, which means more cars, which means more air pollution.

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I'm just going to flat out disagree with that.  A few backside delivery trucks during the business day don't make that much noise (and almost none at night) - certainly compared to the continuous rumble of freeway traffic, 18-wheeler air-brakes, or firetruck and police sirens screaming by.  And the benefits of the air pollution buffer far outweigh any noise.

 

Fair enough - your experiences may have been different from my own.

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I'm just going to flat out disagree with that. A few backside delivery trucks during the business day don't make that much noise (and almost none at night) - certainly compared to the continuous rumble of freeway traffic, 18-wheeler air-brakes, or firetruck and police sirens screaming by. And the benefits of the air pollution buffer far outweigh any noise.

I assume the the sound barrier would block more light pollution from the highway than the 24/7 lights on strip centers though.. so trade of?

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they do create pollution as well, but the huge big box stores, malls, and office buildings that line the feeders, these are the buffers.

It's far more common for freeways with feeders to have commercial developments on the feeders and extending back from the freeway a few hundred yards.

It's far more common for freeways without feeders to have homes build right up to within tens of yards of the freeway.

How are you so sure of this? There are commercial areas behind a small buffer zone along these freeways in a lot of these areas. Not to mention in places like the Northeast, there is usually a nice tree buffer between the freeways and homes instead of just a sound wall.

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How are you so sure of this? There are commercial areas behind a small buffer zone along these freeways in a lot of these areas. Not to mention in places like the Northeast, there is usually a nice tree buffer between the freeways and homes instead of just a sound wall.

 

Based on my experience driving around Houston and LA/OC - your mileage may vary in other cities.  NE tree buffers are nice too, but I don't think they tend to be as wide of an air pollution buffer as a feeder + commercial development (I could be wrong, it's been a long time since I drove NE freeways.  I don't remember how thick the tree buffer is, but would be surprised if it's hundreds of feet).

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Not sure how feeders provide a healthier society. They encourage people to drive, which means more cars, which means more air pollution.

 

cars being a convenient mode of transit encourage people to drive. take away the feeders, people would still drive. take away the freeways and people would still drive.

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How are you so sure of this? There are commercial areas behind a small buffer zone along these freeways in a lot of these areas. Not to mention in places like the Northeast, there is usually a nice tree buffer between the freeways and homes instead of just a sound wall.

 

you can do an experiment to test my theory. I may do it myself.

 

step 1:

take all the freeways in Houston with feeders in google maps and draw a box 2000 yards wide (with the freeway in the middle). count up residences.

 

step 2:

go to a place like LA, find freeways that were developed around the same time as in Houston and take the same distance of freeway in google maps, draw a box 2000 yards wide (with the freeways in the middle). count up residences.

 

I'll bet you a beer at the next haif happy hour that there are less residences when feeders exist than when they don't.

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The backs of strip centers facing residential usually aren't illuminated, save for small lights on the wall, while sound walls will not block out one of those tall high-mast lighting systems.

To me, between the two, the choice is obvious.

They most certainly are; there's light from the parking lots (which never go off), light for security reasons on the backside of buildings, and light from the signs.

This isn't Austin where they et to turn that crap off; here in Htown that crap is on 24/7

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I'm just going to flat out disagree with that. A few backside delivery trucks during the business day don't make that much noise (and almost none at night) - certainly compared to the continuous rumble of freeway traffic, 18-wheeler air-brakes, or firetruck and police sirens screaming by. And the benefits of the air pollution buffer far outweigh any noise.

I disagree. I lived by a Kroger at one time and the truck unloading each night at the dock was unbearable.

Based on my experience driving around Houston and LA/OC - your mileage may vary in other cities. NE tree buffers are nice too, but I don't think they tend to be as wide of an air pollution buffer as a feeder + commercial development (I could be wrong, it's been a long time since I drove NE freeways. I don't remember how thick the tree buffer is, but would be surprised if it's hundreds of feet).

Common sense says trees are better than concrete for air pollution.

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I disagree. I lived by a Kroger at one time and the truck unloading each night at the dock was unbearable.

If it wasn't for the "common sense" logical fallacy regarding trees being better than concrete, I admit I have to agree with you here. You see, I did work at a Kroger, night shift, and we had trucks arriving well after 10 and trucks for things like dairy and bread arriving in the wee hours of the morning.

Really, we can argue about things like "well, does the commercial establishment have a wall behind it, is it open 24 hours a day, etc.", and for that, it does depend and there are variables in all of this. A 24-hour superstore is different than a hotel, which is different than a gas station, which is different than a business that's completely shut during night.

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If it wasn't for the "common sense" logical fallacy regarding trees being better than concrete, I admit I have to agree with you here. You see, I did work at a Kroger, night shift, and we had trucks arriving well after 10 and trucks for things like dairy and bread arriving in the wee hours of the morning.

Really, we can argue about things like "well, does the commercial establishment have a wall behind it, is it open 24 hours a day, etc.", and for that, it does depend and there are variables in all of this. A 24-hour superstore is different than a hotel, which is different than a gas station, which is different than a business that's completely shut during night.

Logical fallacy? Do trees not absorb carbon dioxide?

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you can do an experiment to test my theory. I may do it myself.

 

step 1:

take all the freeways in Houston with feeders in google maps and draw a box 2000 yards wide (with the freeway in the middle). count up residences.

 

step 2:

go to a place like LA, find freeways that were developed around the same time as in Houston and take the same distance of freeway in google maps, draw a box 2000 yards wide (with the freeways in the middle). count up residences.

 

I'll bet you a beer at the next haif happy hour that there are less residences when feeders exist than when they don't.

 

There are a couple of problems with this comparison -

 

1. The vast majority of development in Houston came after the development of the freeway system. Houston really didn't extend past the loop at that point, so the feeders would have come first, then the development.

 

2. In LA, where freeways were imposed on top of existing transit and natural corridors within a developed environment, denser development taking advantage of the previous infrastructure would have already been in place. Furthermore, LA has geographic constraints that Houston doesn't have.

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the comparison is valid. I did say LA, but I was thinking about the LA area, specifically southish LA, and into Orange County.

 

A lot of orange county grew up around the freeways, the freeways weren't plowed through the middle of neighborhoods.

 

Besides, pretty much everywhere inside the loop was built the exact same way.

 

It's interesting too...

areas of Houston inside the loop that don't have feeders are more apt to have homes built right up to the freeway (59 inside shepherd up through downtown).

areas of Houston inside the loop that have always had feeders and were built the exact same way (the gulf freeway from downtown all the way out). they tend to have commercial developments built where homes once were. Sure, it's just one or two layers deep in some cases, but in other cases, lots of houses were bought up by commercial entities.

 

These are two excellent examples of freeways that were built right through the middle of residential areas, and how they both grew independently based upon whether they had a feeder or not.

 

but don't take my word for it, please, look here: http://www.historicaerials.com/

 

Look at Houston. i10 was under construction in 1966, lots of homes were taken and then there were lots of homes right up to the feeder. then, look at today, it's all commercial. the same happens in quite a few places all over Houston. Mainly where feeders exist.

 

Now, go over to LA. Look around Orange County, the 405 specifically near where the 405 and 5 meet, where el toro airfield was. 405 was built in the 70s out in that area. No homes, nothing. freeway is built, and homes start popping up right on the freeway. the 5 existed out in that area way before it was anything other than orange groves. Now though, it's homes right up on the freeway.

 

Now, come back to Houston. Look at outlying areas where areas grew up around the freeways (Katy and Sugarland, the same as my Southern California example), it's mostly commercial developments, and really big ones, then a few hundred yards beyond those, is where the residential begins.

 

I'm not saying that different parts of the country would have grown like Houston had they used feeders, but as we're really the only example, you kind of have to draw that conclusion.

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the comparison is valid. I did say LA, but I was thinking about the LA area, specifically southish LA, and into Orange County.

 

A lot of orange county grew up around the freeways, the freeways weren't plowed through the middle of neighborhoods.

 

Besides, pretty much everywhere inside the loop was built the exact same way.

 

It's interesting too...

areas of Houston inside the loop that don't have feeders are more apt to have homes built right up to the freeway (59 inside shepherd up through downtown).

areas of Houston inside the loop that have always had feeders and were built the exact same way (the gulf freeway from downtown all the way out). they tend to have commercial developments built where homes once were. Sure, it's just one or two layers deep in some cases, but in other cases, lots of houses were bought up by commercial entities.

 

These are two excellent examples of freeways that were built right through the middle of residential areas, and how they both grew independently based upon whether they had a feeder or not.

 

but don't take my word for it, please, look here: http://www.historicaerials.com/

 

Look at Houston. i10 was under construction in 1966, lots of homes were taken and then there were lots of homes right up to the feeder. then, look at today, it's all commercial. the same happens in quite a few places all over Houston. Mainly where feeders exist.

 

Now, go over to LA. Look around Orange County, the 405 specifically near where the 405 and 5 meet, where el toro airfield was. 405 was built in the 70s out in that area. No homes, nothing. freeway is built, and homes start popping up right on the freeway. the 5 existed out in that area way before it was anything other than orange groves. Now though, it's homes right up on the freeway.

 

Now, come back to Houston. Look at outlying areas where areas grew up around the freeways (Katy and Sugarland, the same as my Southern California example), it's mostly commercial developments, and really big ones, then a few hundred yards beyond those, is where the residential begins.

 

I'm not saying that different parts of the country would have grown like Houston had they used feeders, but as we're really the only example, you kind of have to draw that conclusion.

 

There's another huge difference - Southern California is largely incorporated, and land use zoning is widespread. That's not the case for much of the Houston area.

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that's also true, but I don't care to investigate whether those areas were zoned at the time those developments were built.

 

my point stands well enough with just Houston as the example. feeders seem to introduce a natural buffer of commercial developments along the freeway, this pushes residential farther away from the freeways, thus reducing the number of people living in an area where they would be at higher risk of getting sick because of their proximity to the freeway.

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Logical fallacy? Do trees not absorb carbon dioxide?

 

Carbon dioxide is involved with climate change, but it is absolutely *not* a pollutant that is directly harmful to humans (we breathe it in and out perfectly naturally).  The pollution buffer being discussed here is for other tailpipe emissions and especially particulates (mostly from diesels). 

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Carbon dioxide is involved with climate change, but it is absolutely *not* a pollutant that is directly harmful to humans (we breathe it in and out perfectly naturally). The pollution buffer being discussed here is for other tailpipe emissions and especially particulates (mostly from diesels).

So this isn't really a good description of the respiratory system; yes we inhale many different chemicals but the alveoli in your lungs are only capable of allowing O2 to pass thru the blood barrier, and CO2 is "dumped" into the alveoli to be expunged when you exhale
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Carbon dioxide is involved with climate change, but it is absolutely *not* a pollutant that is directly harmful to humans (we breathe it in and out perfectly naturally). The pollution buffer being discussed here is for other tailpipe emissions and especially particulates (mostly from diesels).

My point was more trying to use the "common sense" argument in general, even if it was true. If that was true, then a few trees in a yard should negate the effects of air pollution, and because of its trees overall, Houston's air pollution wouldn't be a problem at all.

Anyway, living near the highway also has more noise and more light. (The walls of course are for noise, not air pollution)

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They should build water walls on each freeway. As water has good adhesion properties, it would cling to the smaller particles of emissions.

 

Or maybe they could force all diesels exhaust to go through a big water bong attached to the tailpipe.

 

Then we could get rid of the feeders and build houses right up on the freeway!

 

I'm of course being facetious.

 

To one of the points about removing the feeders and putting in other exits, I think the biggest point as to why this won't work is access to businesses that have been established along the feeders. ADCS had mentioned taking ROW from behind these establishments to create an access road to them, but that would cost a lot of money, and as the businesses are designed facing the freeway feeder roads, access to these places wouldn't be ideal without huge investment to relocate signs, and create efficient access paths.

 

As Houston has already taken steps towards less frequent freeway exits and entrances (and ones that are better situated to ease the transition both on and off the freeway). Outside of a tenuous claim that feeders create a healthier society, it just seems in my mind that it's a huge investment for what would be at best a minimal gain to the flow of traffic. The downsides outside of taxpayer costs are huge, more vehicle miles, lower ease of access, more confusion, forcing some streets to act as higher flow arteries than they were designed to act as with the existence of feeder roads.

 

A far better use of the funds that would be required to get ROW, rebuild, widen arterial roads, etc. would be to put in more and diverse public transit options. 

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The other advantage of frontage roads, which hasn't been mentioned yet, it makes it possible to widen freeways. I am sure that there are many cities that would've liked to widen their freeways but couldn't because of the houses along it, making it politically impossible and a huge amount of ROW to purchase. But if you have commercial establishments, it makes it easier to do such a thing. People get unhappy if dozens of houses are ripped down to widen a freeway, but (unless you're a bit of a weirdo like me), they don't care nearly as much for gas stations, a Burger King, and a slightly aging but otherwise viable motel being wiped out, because those things are replaceable.

Would I be wrong to say that the Katy Freeway widening wouldn't have faced nearly the resistance it did if it wasn't for all those homes that DID face the freeway?

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The other advantage of frontage roads, which hasn't been mentioned yet, it makes it possible to widen freeways. I am sure that there are many cities that would've liked to widen their freeways but couldn't because of the houses along it, making it politically impossible and a huge amount of ROW to purchase. But if you have commercial establishments, it makes it easier to do such a thing. People get unhappy if dozens of houses are ripped down to widen a freeway, but (unless you're a bit of a weirdo like me), they don't care nearly as much for gas stations, a Burger King, and a slightly aging but otherwise viable motel being wiped out, because those things are replaceable.

Would I be wrong to say that the Katy Freeway widening wouldn't have faced nearly the resistance it did if it wasn't for all those homes that DID face the freeway?

 

Absolutely, on all counts.  Note that the homes facing the Katy were in the zoned villages along there.

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Master-planned is basically de facto zoning

 

But it's voluntary zoning, not forced by faceless bureaucrats that have their hands out for extra cash.

 

Absolutely, on all counts.  Note that the homes facing the Katy were in the zoned villages along there.

 

And, there weren't that many houses taken by the widening. It was mostly businesses and Old Katy Rd.

 

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But it's voluntary zoning, not forced by faceless bureaucrats that have their hands out for extra cash.

 

 

And, there weren't that many houses taken by the widening. It was mostly businesses and Old Katy Rd.

For the Northwest Freeway widening, 12 houses were torn down. For Katy, I don't have numbers, but I counted on Google Earth, that number is closer to 40.

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As long as we're treating suburban neighborhood collector streets as arterials, we don't have a comprehensive plan.

What would you suggest for arterials? Widen Westheimer to 6 lanes like an LA arterial? Widen and straighten Shrpherd/Greenbriar? There aren't any good options here because of the way the City developed and the inconvenient placement of bayous and other drainage structures.
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What would you suggest for arterials? Widen Westheimer to 6 lanes like an LA arterial? Widen and straighten Shrpherd/Greenbriar? There aren't any good options here because of the way the City developed and the inconvenient placement of bayous and other drainage structures.

 

Well, inside the loop, things are about as good/bad as they're going to get. I think lower Westheimer serves its role perfectly fine, as do most of the arterials where the surrounding roads are in a grid pattern.

 

It's when you get to the parts of the city that were originally developed as suburbs, and the surrounding roads are in a spine pattern, that you run into problems. In my current part of town, that's Dairy Ashford, Kirkwood and Wilcrest. Spines demand large arterials (3+ lanes in each direction), and we simply don't have the space to expand them.

 

It's going to be expensive and politically challenging to get those roads expanded to where they need to be, but it can be done. Perhaps a penny tax on gas within the city limits could get moving in the right direction.

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I don't understand what you're referring to.

Referring to the way the main arterials like Kirby stubs are built, they are supposed to function as main traffic corridors, but instead just collect residential side streets. Residential streets connect to bigger roads called "collectors", which then connect to 4/6 lane arterials, and the way things are going, there's a step missing.

Someone can probably explain it better than I can, but I'm going to bed, and using a phone.

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