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You've Been Given $15 Billion


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I was thinking about the massive (and expensive) Big Dig project in Boston the other day, and about the massive final bill for the project (~ $15 Billion), and I was wondering how we, as a community, here in Houston would spend $15 Billion on transportation/infrastructure.

So, I ask the question of all of you:

If you were guaranteed $15 billion in federal transit spending, how would you spend it?

Get ready, get set... GO!

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Everyone gets a Hovercraft ! Are you kidding me, that $15 billion is going towards more police and firefighters, and we are gonna feed and clothe some homeless and poor families. We can keep sitting in traffic. The solution to traffic jams, MOVE CLOSER TO WORK ! :angry:

Edited by TJones
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I take about half of that and spend it on infill in the direct core (downtown) and the other half live my every day life and of course charity. :D

oops. didn't read the first post. I will think of something later.

Edited by WesternGulf
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Has to be used for transportation/infrastructure.

We are talking about City Government here, you know a third of that money is gonna disappear. If I have to spend it on transportation. Expand the light rail out west ,north and south to Galveston. Not gonna "dig" anything. Commuter rails will lighten the traffic.

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Diagonal HOV toll roads (al a Westpark Toll road) out from 610 on all corners.

Hire someone who knows how to time traffic lights and pay him a bonus if he can cut down commute times by 18% on high volume surface roads.

Replace all Houston buses with buses that wont make you nauseous if you get stuck beside/behind one as well as off-street bus stops on high traffic roads. There is no excuse for a bus to STOP on Bellaire or Westheimer during rush hour and kill a lane of traffic.

That is about 4 billion down the tube. I'll ponder the other 9 for a few and get back to you.

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I'd have two choices with 15 Billion to spend for transportation:

I could become a Republican, keep all the money to myself, raise oil prices a little and invest all of the bill on Halliburton to try to make more out of it.

Or,

I could become Democrat, spend all the money on Lewinski and hope Hilary doesn't find out.

j/k.

Seriously, my first goal would be to move 1-10 the way they have been talking about for the downtown revitalization plan. I'd estimate that the move would cost around 3 billion right there.

I would speed up the light rail projects by trying to finish everything before 2018 instead of 2025, which would also cost about 2 billion more right there (start off by connecting downtown to uptown, then Bush Intercontenental to Woodlands, then downtown to Bush, then I'd worry about Alief, Katy, Sugarland, and I'd start talking about possibly Galveston when all Houston projects were near completion.)

I'd spend about 2 billion dollars on revitalizing Hobby airport into one of the most luxurious airports in the world for it's size, to the point where everyone would wish they could pass through it (here in Korea/Japan, the airports and rail stations are architecturally mind-blowing. I hope I can find some pics for you soon.)

I'd spend 2 billion dollars revitalizing all the roadways that have seen a lack of funding for improvements over the years. I'd add street lights where they still aren't there, and worry about flood control if possible. I'd end up making the lower class neighborhood roadways look similar to that of Bellaire's revitalization.

I'd invest about a 250 million on underground-only parking downtown. Then I'd push to convert many of the existing above-ground parking spaces into new residential developments.

I'd spend 1.50 billion on speeding up the Buffalo Bayou project. Boats and all. Try to have it all finished before 2015.

I'd spend 250 million on better school buses

The other 4 billion dollars would be like, stored up in a Swiss bank for if we want to do something else later, I guess B)

Edited by DJ V Lawrence
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So far the only three recomendations have been:

1. Transportation & Infrastructure

2. Civil service employees

3. Homeless

I don't know about number 2, but I definately agree that 1 & 3 need the money. Maybe by tunneling 45 you can knock out both 1 & 3, since there won't be a Pierce Elevated for the homeless to camp out under anymore?

Edited by Jeebus
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Well #1 was the only thing we were supposed to be using the money one.

Yeah, but we were just doing what every known politician does with overbudgetted funds, try to spread the wealth without anyone finding out about it, gotta keep those "payoffs" coming form somewhere you know ? ;)

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Ohhhhhh no you don't! I'm watchin youse!!!

I'm surprised no one earmarked an annual budget that was insure that freeways in Houston would be swept every weekday evening, you know, so that the debris doesn't continue to build up along the median and side walls. You could probably take care of that with just a couple of million.

Nevertheless, keep 'em comin'.

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Well, more money may be needed for all I want.

Well this time, I will just stick to transportation. In no particular order:

Commuter Rail out to the major suburbs (basically in the direction of most of our freeways)

Widen 290

Light Rail along the perimeter of 610.

Maglev to Intercontinental from Downtown

Maglev from Downtown to Galveston, with one stop in Clear Lake (that has a shuttle from the station to NASA)

Tunnel from Greenspoint To Downtown

Light Rail through the Uptown Area with a indoor rail station attached to the Galleria itself.

Suspended or elevated rail out Westheimer

Elevated Rail to Hobby

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Maglev to Intercontinental from Downtown

Maglev from Downtown to Galveston, with one stop in Clear Lake (that has a shuttle from the station to NASA)

imagine shooting from IAH to downtown in under ten minutes! or to galveston in what...twenty minutes? :D

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I was thinking about the massive (and expensive) Big Dig project in Boston the other day, and about the massive final bill for the project (~ $15 Billion), and I was wondering how we, as a community, here in Houston would spend $15 Billion on transportation/infrastructure.

So, I ask the question of all of you:

If you were guaranteed $15 billion in federal transit spending, how would you spend it?

Get ready, get set... GO!

How about bulldozing all of the inner city and starting over make it more dense and do away with all freeways and make everyone must park and take public transportation at the city limits except trucking companies and buses who would take dedicated transit system.

Everyone else must park at the city limits and take public transportation that can get you any were in the city in less then 30 min

Edited by eelimon
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I'd build an extensive rail network inside the Beltway, with 2/3 of it being inside the Loop. I'd like to see Uptown, UH, the Heights, Montrose, and Bellaire all connected by light rail. To make it work I'd give tax breaks to people building along the line to create mixed use developments with lots of retail at street level.

Also, I like the idea of building a new 45 North underground. The last thing we need is a massive reconstruction like I-10 West.

Finally, I'd like to see high speed rail to Galveston, then light rail on the island to help people get around. I think the region would really be helped by solidifying the Houston-Galveston connection.

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Eliminate HOV lanes on the 59, 10, and 45.instead place light rail on them, with stations at the centre of the freeways with access from sides of freeway(underground or overhead) similar to other cities...LA, Chicago,...So light rail would extend, Galveston to Woodlands, Sugar land to Kingwood, Jacinto city to Katy.

All freeway entrances with no merge lane or less than 100 ft to merge would get extended to allow adequate safe freeway entry.

Since eliminating feeder road system might be too costly, I would add turn lanes from which to turn into business or onto other streets from.

Someone else mentioned hiring someone to effectively time the street lights in this town...I would hire a whole department devoted to just that. These lights in midtown are red FOREVER, to allow for an insanely long green light for little streets like McGowen..and Tuam....WTF?!!!

Build 45 so that it at least maintains 4 lanes as it traverses around downtown.

Whoever is responsible for designing that clusterchuck of the feeder road/exit system for Hidalgo in the Galleria from the 610 south and the same spot access to the 59 and 610 south will be tracked down, fired and banished from ever designing this sort of crap again.

I would send the local drivers to brainwashing school to reprogram them to not be so personal on the road, and that if someone wants to go around you, then let them, by moving over, and not speeding up if they choose to go around you.

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Enhance the I-45 tunnel proposal by including an extra tunnel for high-speed rail with very few stations between the Woodlands and downtown-and for god's sake-bury that hideous Pierce elevated once and for all.

Take what's left over and build a liniar park like they did with the dig in Boston.

B)

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Finally, I'd like to see high speed rail to Galveston, then light rail on the island to help people get around. I think the region would really be helped by solidifying the Houston-Galveston connection.

I agree that there shoud be better rail connection to Galveston - light rail there would be awesome. Although I think the term "high speed" might still be a little aggressive (how much ridership would there be?).

Given our current weakness in rail connections, the only "high speed" rail corridors run between Boston, New York, and Washington. Even these line may be considered slow compared to Japan and other countries with advanced rail lines.

Regardless, true "high speed" rail would probably work better in Texas and the American West than the Northeast. Imagine a rail line that could get you from Houston to Dallas in less than 2 hours or to Austin in 45 minutes.

If the pricing is right, this would provide a viable alternative to driving or flying (we were supposed to create these after 9/11).

If such a system is created, I think the question becomes: where should the Houston station be located? IAH? Downtown? Galleria?

Edited by TxDave
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If such a system is created, I think the question becomes: where should the Houston station be located? IAH? Downtown? Galleria?

Downtown, that is the best place considering it is the center of our current public transportation system. Not everyone will be able to have someone pick them up.

Edited by YakuzaIce
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yeah, there are planters going in (but not a la my dream world :) )...just hope the plants can withstand pee

Plants are nice.

So are pleasant places to wait - and you will wait, regardless of the means of transportation.

I'm thinking that transit stops could be improved first, before we start taking heroic measures.

Stop laughing. I'm serious.

We already have a pretty good public transportation network in place. The greatest flaw is that it's user unfriendly. If you wait at a bus stop...then what? Where's it going to take you? is it where you want to go? And how the hell long am I gonna have to wait?

I'd blow a lot of money on making public transportation safe, convenient and efficient. No kidding. You go to a transit stop and there's a (free) touch pad that tells you when the next transit option is arriving (in real time) and your alternatives (walk two blocks over to the train, you'll save half an hour....).

Impossible? I hope not. I do it in my head nearly every day. Why not also provide decent places to wait for a bus (or train, or hovercraft, or monorail) that are clean, safe and (gasp! climate controlled? Twenty-five years ago when I first visted Toronto, I was so greatly impressed. It seemed as if anywhere I went, there were helpful signs and maps. Even a chump like me never felt lost. Major intersections had heated stations.

For the money that was spent on the Big Dig in Boston, a person with marketing skills could make Houston a dream.

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Id take about half or whatever's needed, and build a huge elevated metro system like the one in miami. It would have lines that radiated from downtown and went between the freeway areas, and there would be lines going around the city too, making a spider web. It would be elevated the whole way so it wouldnt ever flood or crush cars.

Then, whatever's left, id take a bit of that and put it into buses, then the rest would go towards other things like police and education.

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  • 3 months later...

I would tackle Houston's three major problems; traffic, flooding and air polution with a tri-level freeway system.

The below ground level through flow level 1 handles both traffic and water. Used mainly for through town traffic. It has entry/exits about every five miles with lower to mid level transitions halfway between them. This level is built on a constant grade making for constant flowing of both water and heavy cargos. During early flooding auto traffic would be directed to the mid level and then light trucks and SUVs during the intermediate stage clearing room for the heavy trucks thus allowing the easy evacuation of all vehicles from the flood waters.

The mid level is above ground and handles localized traffic. Built well above flood conditions, pooling water would flow to lower level allowing for fast safer traffic flow during rainy conditions. Entry/exits on this level would be much like our current system.

The third level would be for a dual mode personal transit system much like the Rapid Urban Flexible (RUF) system developed in Denmark. This system has a cost of about 7mio/mile for bidirectional flow bringing it in at about 20% the cost of light rail. Having a futuristic look, Houston would for sure live up to the name

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I would expand the light rail system throughout the city of Houston with all rail lines hubbing in dwntown. Build multiple mirrored glass highrise parking garages dwntwn and around the rail lines for people to park in. Also take the Pierce elevated and enclose it in beautiful mirrored glass covering. Both the cities major airports would be connected with downtown by light rail, by using the existing HOV lanes as the path to lay the tracks. I would spend a nice portion of the money to advertise the rail lines and enhanced transportation system, not only to the local population but to the world as a method of getting additional businesses to relocate to the city. For the trains heading to the airports, they would be high speed with no more than 2 or 3 stops at existing transit centers after leaving downtown......that way they can be timed for bi-directional use without having to add an additional lane of train rails :):):):):):):):)

Now if i was only computer savvy enough to create renderings of my plans.......

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