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I-45 Rebuild (North Houston Highway Improvement Project)


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This is actually a pretty well thought out plan, I don't see it alleviating traffic at all near where 288/59/45 is, but it at least opens up the possibility of downtown actually being a part of the city and not being a walled garden, or a castle with a huge moat in the middle of the city.

 

 

That would be Clayton Homes, a subsidized housing complex. It should be relocated, but its not the residents' land.

 

They'll be relocated to new housing on plots where the existing pierce elevated is :P

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I'd rather they tear down the Pierce Elevated, sell the land to developers, then use that cash to help cap the freeways on the other side of Downtown, but that's just me.

Absolutely love this quote from the article “If you really want to live in the suburbs, that’s OK. That’s a choice,” Graham said. “But when you make that choice you have to understand that you can’t d

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If the pierce was replaced with a linear park would that not create the boundary you seek?

 

I imagine the money that they have to spend on ED for the land around the GRB and stadiums would be offset by selling the land where pierce is currently (and other areas where freeway is removed).

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one nice thing about the current system is that you have alternative routes if there is a wreck (and only half of the total traffic in that direction is affected by a wreck b/c the other half is on the other route).  that goes away with this proposal (I suppose you can drive on the streets in downtown).  And how many lanes will be needed when 45/10 and 45/69 are merged?  10 lanes each way?  12?  At some point you would think you couldn't just keep adding lanes.  

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Would be cool, but I bet the state/city are banking on selling that land for a handful of cash.

 

Maybe something a little smaller, say from where it starts to go elevated right after W. Dallas to Travis. Still a good stretch (probably just under 1/2 mile), and great views.

 

They still get to sell a lot of land in prime territory, and there's a nice homage to the elevated.

Edited by samagon
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It is a blessing if they could finish it within 10 years…

 

Thats certainly the optimistic view. Lets not kid ourselves here though. This project is going to be both expensive and time consuming! Everyone should get out of their heads that this will be simple, fast, and painless because thats not this project and that's not how you do this project right. This is a massive scope, and a massive undertaking and that means we need to be able to understand that there will be significant costs associated with this.

 

That being said. This is one of those once in a generation type projects! The ones that only swing bye every 20-30 years. This change could completely reshape how not only Houston looks, but how people view the city both locally and abroad. This is a 50 year type decision meaning this is one of those projects that could define Houston for the next 40-50 years.

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I haven't been able to check much on vacation so sorry if this has been asked... What is the time line for this thing?

 

the website shows 2017 for environmental impact study to be complete.

 

still a long way to go before things start happening.

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Are some of you people nuts!? This idea would be incredible. Screw NYC! For this city it would be so amazing to re purpose something like this. It would be a 2 for 1 deal, you eliminate the barrier between downtown and midtown and ou get green space. Seems like an easy win win IMO.

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There is no reason why they can't sell the land rights underneath the bridge. That way those areas could be infilled by various shops built under the bridge, maybe a food truck park, I can image a skate park underneath, you could even have it to where some buildings build portions of their building underneath the bridge then flow onto the rest of the lot next to the bridge and then have entrances to the bridge park on the next level as sort of store fronts for the bridge. I'm actually now pretty behind this.....as long as they kill the pierce from the Bayou to I'10. We look like barbarians with rivers of concrete overshadowing what could be very nice....well river/bayou. Plus if you kill that you can make the park way and then invest in a signature bridge going over the bayou (anyone wanna call up Calatrava? I hear we have a project for him :P )

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While everyone is happy that the plans call for the Pierce Elevated to be eliminated as a barrier between Midtown and Downtown, I see some things that will likely cause some understandable controversy. This may be called the North Houston Highway Improvement Project, but the southern end of the project is in 3rd Ward and it looks like some of the street grid in the area to the west of Almeda, namely Cleburne, Caroline, Crawford, Austin, Eagle, Blodgett and Barbee Streets will be cut off in some parts if I-69/US59 is trenched. It also shows a new offramp from I-69/US59 to Almeda at Truxillo plowing through the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center's administrative offices, and it looks like the current free exit from 288 to Chenevert Street will become accessible only via the managed lanes.

 

I wonder if there will as much lament here that the proposed trenched I-69/US 59 will interrupt parts of the street grid in 3rd Ward as there is that the Pierce Elevated is a barrier to Midtown and Downtown even though it allows for the street grid between Midtown and Downtown remain intact?

 

I'm basing my observations on these plans: http://www.ih45northandmore.com/docs4/16_20150417_Seg3_PM4_Exhibit_02_Eastern_Half.pdf

 

I would think replacing the elevated structure with a depressed freeway would more than offset the loss of a few street crossings.  I would happily make that trade.

 

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There is no reason why they can't sell the land rights underneath the bridge. That way those areas could be infilled by various shops built under the bridge, maybe a food truck park, I can image a skate park underneath, you could even have it to where some buildings build portions of their building underneath the bridge then flow onto the rest of the lot next to the bridge and then have entrances to the bridge park on the next level as sort of store fronts for the bridge. I'm actually now pretty behind this.....as long as they kill the pierce from the Bayou to I'10. We look like barbarians with rivers of concrete overshadowing what could be very nice....well river/bayou. Plus if you kill that you can make the park way and then invest in a signature bridge going over the bayou (anyone wanna call up Calatrava? I hear we have a project for him :P )

 

One of the cool ideas they have is to connect the bayou to this, so eliminating that part might make those plans impossible. 

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Still trying to get my head around this. It's amazing and really never thought that TXDot would shoot for the "Grand Option". All is far from said and done, I know. But Wow...just Wow. I'm a little curious how motorists coming up 45 or West on I-10 will get over to Allen Pkwy, Midtown and Montrose, most efficiently. Also, Looks Like Charters will be eliminated and St. Emmanuel will become Primary northbound surface lanes. Not sure, but appears that the blocks between will be preserved. Right? Wondering about Tout Suite Coffee Shop...

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I69/145 is trenched between St Emmanuel and Hamilton (No quite Hamilton, since the GB extends over the Hamilton ROW).

 

15 blocks or so between 59 and St Emmanuel will need to be ED'd in this plan including lots leased to the Astros, one of the Ballpark Lofts buildings, Little Woodrows, The Meridian, etc.

 

I think the big reason this route is chosen is that #1 EaDo blocks are less valuable than Downtown blocks, and the Pierce ROW is pretty much impossible to expand, so the most cost effective way to maximize the width of ROW and cost is  to buy the less developed Eado blocks and offset some of the cost by selling the Pierce ROW.

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Ummm, yes please. I'm not really concerned about being a copy cat, people here would eat this up like a fake town square in the suburbs. It would also attract more residents to the downtown/midtown area. Creating a boulevard, which would also be nice, would only improve the area so much. This makes it stand out.

 

As far as the concern with the underbelly of it, I'm sure they can be creative and do something with that, too. Either use it for parking for the people driving to their urbanism and then going home (like my sig says) or they could easily build restaurants or whatever you wanted to, I would assume.

 

the whole "copy cat" complaint is such a cop-out anyways... practically every idea in the history of ideas is a riff off someone else's idea. why is having our own highline any different than having our own klyde warren park? i agree that the entire length of the pierce elevated is overkill and you probably don't need six lanes the entire way either (the idea of keeping six lanes in a few spots for kiosks, food trucks etc. is cool) but it's a neat idea that would get a ton of use. perhaps if you kept a poprtion of the curved area stopping around travis so it opens up some of the "dead zones" near dallas north towards buffalo bayou park and also southern midtown past main/fannin.

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I am not keen on keeping all six lanes of the Pierce Elevated. However, keeping certain 3 lane portions and widening to six around the western edge turn north could be very cool. Having fewer lanes might eliminate some of the lighting issues (there's much less of a cavern under merely three lanes as opposed to six. Additionally, keeping the three lanes would make it possible to have some upgrades to promote mood lighting underneath--I've thought having LED's under a freeway that could change colors would make the areas much brighter and more pedestrian friendly. If they are going to trench 59/69/45 east of Downtown, it would be nice to cap that off to create additional green space (as well as the newly trenched portion by me in the Museum District but that is for another topic). The newly created green space could then be linked to Buffalo Bayou on thenortheast and the former Pierce Elevated on the southwest. The former Pierce would then link up to Buffalo Bayou again on the West. If we could improve the trails and parkspace running along Buffalo Bayou on the north side of Downtown, we would have a nice green ring surrounding the central business district.

 

Anyhoo, just my thoughts.

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Alright, I admit it's grown on me some. I toyed with the idea for a few minutes and came up with a stretch of park from green space just north of W Dallas (a hike/bike lane connector follows the Allen Parkway exit north across Allen and links to Buffalo Bayou Park), under the old/removed ramps, down to Austin (assuming the BMW dealer can be bought out/repurposed into something connected to the elevated), wifh a meandering ramp down to street level at La Branch (I'd like to see a bike path down LB). Another meandering ramp down to street level at the curve north, and 4 different 2 block long cut outs/reduced to 3 lanes along the stretch. The park connects to the street level at the blue lines and into the buildings level with the pierce at the red lines (Federal building, 2016 Main, Advantage BMW).

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If they could get a full greenbelt ring that could be an awesome amenity for downtown residents.

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I went to the txdot freeway public meeting tonight and while talking to one of the consultants this project came up and he said the downtown district is not in favor of keeping the Pierce elevated. So if we want it, we might want to start making our voices heard now. Apparently they still think it would be a barrier between midtown and downtown. It might also take convincing of txdot to sell it, too, I'm not sure. Maybe someone who really wants this to happen can contact the groups proposing this project to find out what it will take to get it done w/ txdot and the downtown district.

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I went to the public meeting tonight. Let me say that I think anyone who has any interest in this at all, I recommend going to the next meeting, I had a great experience.

 

There were many consultants to the project available to discuss my questions. They were all very pleasant and ready and willing to talk. They also had HD motion video renderings of each section, too, which was very helpful for visualization. I learned a lot and stayed for the entire two hours, basically just observing and talking with the consultants.

 

To start off with the big picture first, which I think this will be very helpful to anyone wanting to get involved to create a better Houston. HGAC it seems is the driving force behind most changes in our region. I was told that it is federally mandated that cities of a certain size are required to have an MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization), HGAC being ours. So they influence TxDot and other entities about what to do. Maybe that was common knowledge, but I didn't realize they had that type of authority.

 

As I was looking at the trenched portions and talking with the consultant, I realized that they're basically tunnels and asked the guy what the difference was. He agreed that they're basically the same. I think he called it a "cut and cover." This is obviously more expensive than building on the surface, but to me, this should be the standard for all freeways going forward. One, it takes up less right of way because the frontage roads on the ground level can be closer in. Two, eventually we are going to need that space for more freeway lanes and/or trains. I really don't like more freeways, but let's face it, they will forever be part of Houston's infrastructure. This proposal is only looking towards 2035 or 2040. What happens when that day comes, and then 100 yrs from now? We have to have double decker freeways and commuter rail. OR, we have to do more eminent domain and create more surface streets and medium sized roads (thoroughfares?) beyond 610 and the beltway, get light rail lines etc. I don't see the latter happening. Having green space sounds nice, but we really need it for transportation.

 

Some other random things I remember. The Fannin exit off 59 south is being eliminated. There's an alternative, but I don't remember the road, so it looks like Alameda might be a big funnel for people traveling to the museum district and medical center.

 

The ballparks lofts are coming down without a doubt.

 

As I said in the other thread, the downtown district is apparently against keeping the Pierce elevated for a park.

 

The 610/45 intersection will resemble the newer intersections that the beltway has with other major freeways, which will include surface streets which it doesnt currently have.

 

The project still doesn't have funding, personally, I don't see that being a problem.

 

The consultants kept encouraging us to make comments, so it seems like they do actually consider our thoughts and ideas.

 

oh yeah, one consultant said DFWs MOP was the best in Texas, if not the country.

 

Overall, I feel like it is a pretty good plan. Every time I brought up a concern, it seemed the consultants had reasonable solutions.

 

 

*apparently, I made it on camera of channel 2's story tonight. See, yall should go, get your 15 seconds of fame.

 

 

Edited by lockmat
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so we need to start a Green Ring Initiative..?

Please no. This is our one shot at a cohesive plan of eliminating a elevated freeway that has separated a dense grid of streets since the gulf freeway opened. It doesn't matter if these plain concrete columns are holding a park or a freeway, it must be removed. Even though some of us may see past this (even in it's current state), the populous does not.

Getting rid of this barrier opens the door for a future that we can't even fathom. Downtown will mold into Midtown. Eventually, 20-30 year from now, a majority of the midtown apartment complexes will give way to high rises. imagine when we can't even recognize Downtown from Midtown. Keeping this bland and completely unimaginative/no architectural significant stretch of elevated freeway does nothing but keep the boundaries.

It has to go. End of story. Turn the current portion into a park, sure, but why does it need to remain on these columns? Why can't it be on the ground and integrate with the street. Seems like such a waste of energy and resources to turn this into a park. I get that it doesn't matter if it's copying NYC. That's not my argument. But saving the bottom of the barrel, cheapest design of an elevated freeway, is a fight not worth fighting.

Also, if you keep it elevated, you almost turn it into an elitist park. Oh don't worry, you can run along that park, it completely passes the homeless shelters and the public transportation (greyhound).

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I really think if it is turned into a park, the psychological barrier that was there before won't be any longer, as long as they cleaned it up underneath on the street level. If they didn't, then I agree, it wouldn't be worth it.

 

What was truly the psychological barrier? Isn't it the darkness, noise and creepiness? The park and changes below would change all that I think.

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Will the entire Ballpark Lofts be destroyed, or just the block that abuts the (current) freeway? It seems like they could keep the garage and the other block of apartments that are a block away.

 

It looks like only the far west block. Hopefully they wouldn't need to do the rest as well, I don't see why.

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Aren't we already seeing the beginnings of a blending of downtown and midtown? We've got residential projects in south downtown and the old central bank building in north midtown. Wouldn't the park actually draw both downtownians and midtownians together to the midpoint between the two??? ;)

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I really think if it is turned into a park, the psychological barrier that was there before won't be any longer, as long as they cleaned it up underneath on the street level. If they didn't, then I agree, it wouldn't be worth it.

What was truly the psychological barrier? Isn't it the darkness, noise and creepiness? The park and changes below would change all that I think.

It wouldn't. The columns and the freeway/park would still be there. What could honestly be cleaned up? It's not like lighting will help, it's still under a bridge Downtown. You could turn this into the most beautiful architectural masterpiece on top, but the columns and under space remain. There is already parking there. Even adding some paint like the aquarium wouldn't make a difference. It's still under a freeway.
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It wouldn't. The columns and the freeway/park would still be there. What could honestly be cleaned up? It's not like lighting will help, it's still under a bridge Downtown. You could turn this into the most beautiful architectural masterpiece on top, but the columns and under space remain. There is already parking there. Even adding some paint like the aquarium wouldn't make a difference. It's still under a freeway.

c'mon, where's your Houston can-do spirit? haha jk

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c'mon, where's your Houston can-do spirit? haha jk

Seriously any effort to save the pierce elevated is ****ing joke and an absolute waste of time, energy, and resources. The Downtown/Midtown section of town should not be focusing on saving the cheapest of cheap elevated freeway designs, but instead should focus on a grand plan of integrating the two neighborhoods and promoting trees and other beautification of the urban environment.

I mean, this city does have a grid. Why eliminate any hope of densification and a street life we are all fighting for? It is completely counterproductive to raise any funds or awareness of saving the pierce.

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I would think replacing the elevated structure with a depressed freeway would more than offset the loss of a few street crossings.  I would happily make that trade.

 

 

TxDOT has a history of coming through Third Ward and cutting off parts of the neighborhood from the other. 288 split up Riverside Terrace pretty good. I heard some oldtimers talk about how traveling down Rosedale, Wichita, and other E-W streets in Riverside Terrace made E-W travel through the neighborhood easy until 288 came through and limited crossings to Wheeler, Blodgett, Southmore, and Binz/Calumet  At least with 59, the highway was elevated so the street grid underneath remained intact without splitting up the neighborhood. Now they want to depress I-69/US 59 and once again cut up the grid in Third Ward.

 

Like I said before, there was much ballyhooing that the Pierce Elevated disrupted the grid between Midtown and Downtown and needed to come down. Well, Third Ward will find their street grid disrupted once again. Where's the outcry about that from the familiar few here? Or is it ok because that icky Pierce Elevated will no longer offend the sensibilities of Midtown residents and that's all that matters?

 

TxDOT can depress the freeway and keep the street crossings at the same time. The intersections of Memorial and Capitol Ave, Baker and Piedmont, and Ralph McGill Blvd and Courtlandt St. over I-75/85 in Atlanta all come to mind as examples.

 

I plan to be at the meeting on April 28th at HCC to weigh in.

Edited by JLWM8609
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Some other random things I remember. The Fannin exit off 59 south is being eliminated. There's an alternative, but I don't remember the road, so it looks like Alameda might be a big funnel for people traveling to the museum district and medical center.

 

 

 

 

920x920.jpg

 

 

 

 

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I plan to be at the meeting on April 28th at HCC to weigh in.

 

Looking at the render that Triton put up, there's a very good reason they aren't going to be able to maintain that many through streets. the 288 > 59s ramp makes it impossible.

 

I agree with you, there's a lot of streets there that are very convenient to use, and even though there's a huge freeway overhead, the streets below are maintained.

 

I doubt I'll make any of the meetings, but I hope that there's enough feedback that they find another way to configure that ramp so they can keep the neighborhood more contiguous.

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TxDOT has a history of coming through Third Ward and cutting off parts of the neighborhood from the other. 288 split up Riverside Terrace pretty good. I heard some oldtimers talk about how traveling down Rosedale, Wichita, and other E-W streets in Riverside Terrace made E-W travel through the neighborhood easy until 288 came through and limited crossings to Wheeler, Blodgett, Southmore, and Binz/Calumet  At least with 59, the highway was elevated so the street grid underneath remained intact without splitting up the neighborhood. Now they want to depress I-69/US 59 and once again cut up the grid in Third Ward.

 

Like I said before, there was much ballyhooing that the Pierce Elevated disrupted the grid between Midtown and Downtown and needed to come down. Well, Third Ward will find their street grid disrupted once again. Where's the outcry about that from the familiar few here? Or is it ok because that icky Pierce Elevated will no longer offend the sensibilities of Midtown residents and that's all that matters?

 

TxDOT can depress the freeway and keep the street crossings at the same time. The intersections of Memorial and Capitol Ave, Baker and Piedmont, and Ralph McGill Blvd and Courtlandt St. over I-75/85 in Atlanta all come to mind as examples.

 

I plan to be at the meeting on April 28th at HCC to weigh in.

I agree to an extent. The whole "remove the Pierce Elevated" always reeks of yuppie sensibilities/NIMBYs and the subtle "put it through the poor neighborhoods" business that freeways originally were saddled with, and that's not even counting the fact that the Pierce Elevated doesn't actually disturb the grid like 59 currently does (near the downtown area). Most streets and even their beloved light rail goes right under it.

 

That being said, the Pierce was an over-capacity, narrow highway. Lanes squeezed into just three lanes with no inner shoulder, and it would be unrealistic to expand the Pierce through double-decking or widening. The fact that they built mid-rises on the same block of the Pierce eliminated any realistic chance that the Pierce could be sunken and widened, but even that would be impossible since 59 was sunken in that part too. 

 

I sincerely hope that the whole project is actually designed to improve traffic flow and capacity and not just appease a bunch of whiny folks within a six-block radius of the Pierce. As it stands, the whole 59/288/45 intersection is...complicated.

Edited by IronTiger
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I worry about the huge S-curve that I-45 will have to make around north downtown, followed by an abrupt 90 south of downtown. When you put such strong bends in a road, it is bound to slow traffic, because when people lose their sight lines or have to make a hard turn they instinctively slow down. Yes it has some bends around downtown now, but they are much more gradual.

I also shudder to think of the effect that any accident will have on the 28-lane spaghetti bowl north of downtown. One set of flashing police lights will have everyone hitting the brakes and craning their necks.

My last concern is that with all these sunken and partially covered freeways, you lose part of the joy of driving that is a big part of living in Houston, rush hour traffic notwithstanding. Virtually flying past downtown on elevated roadways has a way of making a person feel like a king. Sitting in traffic in a dark enclosure will have a wearisome effect that we have not experienced to that degree.

Other than that, the plan is exciting.

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I worry about the huge S-curve that I-45 will have to make around north downtown, followed by an abrupt 90 south of downtown. When you put such strong bends in a road, it is bound to slow traffic, because when people lose their sight lines or have to make a hard turn they instinctively slow down. Yes it has some bends around downtown now, but they are much more gradual.

I also shudder to think of the effect that any accident will have on the 28-lane spaghetti bowl north of downtown. One set of flashing police lights will have everyone hitting the brakes and craning their necks.

My last concern is that with all these sunken and partially covered freeways, you lose part of the joy of driving that is a big part of living in Houston, rush hour traffic notwithstanding. Virtually flying past downtown on elevated roadways has a way of making a person feel like a king. Sitting in traffic in a dark enclosure will have a wearisome effect that we have not experienced to that degree.

Other than that, the plan is exciting.

I like your last concern, that will be sad to go, but there's still other opportunities for that.

 

As far as your concern for the "bends", they said the standard for those is now 45 mph, higher than it was before. And just like they did at the 290/610 interchange, they're forcing people to decide what route you're going to take well in advance of an "intersection", which will create less need for "crossing over" lanes at the last second to take the route needed. Also from what I saw once two freeways merge, everyone will have their own lane, so there won't be any merging. That may not be the case for every single one, I'm not sure, but it was for the ones I saw last night.

 

But yeah, all those lanes in one place will at the least create more opportunities for rubber necking.

Edited by lockmat
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Maybe put up barriers between the individual highways to prevent people from rubber necking across 28 lanes?

 

 

I've kind of thought of that before. At first, it doesn't seem cost effective, but when you consider that it would prevent traffic from slowing down, it might be. After all, the whole reason for this project is to produce enough capacity for the future and increase traffic flow.

 

Seriously, submit the idea to them via email, it's on their website. We need voices.

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  • Triton changed the title to I-45 Rebuild (North Houston Highway Improvement Project)

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