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I-45 Rebuild (North Houston Highway Improvement Project)


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The 69S to 45N flyover ramp.. Connect any trail system by means of that. But yeah. I agree with Montrose that saving the pierce is counter productive to what we were trying to achieve in the first place and it would be better suited as green space on the ground, maybe with a few strategically placed elevated platforms/skyline viewing areas that could host events either on top of or in the shade provided below..

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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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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.

 

All barriers should be at least 6' height. That includes the edge barriers, middle barriers, etc...

 

The best example of a tall barrier on the edge is on 610 going through Bellaire. Thats how all highways should be imo....oh if I ruled the world!

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All barriers should be at least 6' height. That includes the edge barriers, middle barriers, etc...

 

The best example of a tall barrier on the edge is on 610 going through Bellaire. Thats how all highways should be imo....oh if I ruled the world!

 

Those are on the outside shoulder side, right? Are they more for noise? Either way, I would also encourage you to send them a comment. They indirectly confirmed to me that the squeaky wheel is considered more.

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Those are on the outside shoulder side, right? Are they more for noise? Either way, I would also encourage you to send them a comment. They indirectly confirmed to me that the squeaky wheel is considered more.

 

It was put up for both noise and aesthetics. So not only do you get the reduction in sound but also you don't have to see the highway from your own window...unless your in a second story of course. On the freeway though it would a good way of keep drivers more focused on the road in front instead of rubbernecking everywhere! I remember when being on Highways in Europe and when you were in more densely packed areas you would sometimes see high barriers on shoulders. With that being said though I think they should also apply these to medians.

 

I believe the saying is: the squeaky wheel always gets the most oil :P which is very true.

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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.

 

I really have to agree having thought about it more.

 

I'm not sure if I said it yesterday, but the way the new configuration reads to me is traffic still going north on 45 when people merge from 59.

 

the current configuration has 2 lanes from 59s that marrow into 1 lane, which then converge into 2 lanes from 45, and from 59n it just merges 1 lane into the 45 traffic. and you get 3 lanes overall.

 

now, you get 2 lanes coming off 59s to merge with 2 lanes of 45, which narrows to 3 lanes anyway. not to mention if you look upstream on 45, exit for 59s, exit for 59n, and exit for DT destinations. that looks like it will be a whole pile of suck.

 

I just don't see this being a win for traffic.

 

It's a win for midtown with the removal of the pierce, it's a kind of win for east downtown, if they get that cover park. It's a push/loss for north of downtown, and an absolute loss for 3rd ward.

 

what really kind of gets my nose smelling weird things, I read somewhere (maybe swamplot, maybe on a news outlet) that the plan is supposed to be good for growth up to about 2040 (I hope someone finds conflicting information), as presented, this is just the best plan they have, it's not a guarantee to happen. say this does get approved if they start digging before 2020, I'd be shocked, if they finished before 2025 I'd be even more shocked.

 

so this is a freeway plan that is going to cost billions, and completely butt *bad word redacted* traffic for 5 years around downtown, all for just 15 years of use? 

 

All this really comes out to in the end is getting rid of the pierce elevated, at least by my math. Which as slick was quick to point out, it was a bad idea when he had it, now that we've spent millions of dollars of tax payer money and this is the best proposal, from my armchair it appears to still a bad idea.

Edited by samagon
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I really have to agree having thought about it more.

 

I'm not sure if I said it yesterday, but the way the new configuration reads to me is traffic still going north on 45 when people merge from 59.

 

the current configuration has 2 lanes from 59s that marrow into 1 lane, which then converge into 2 lanes from 45, and from 59n it just merges 1 lane into the 45 traffic. and you get 3 lanes overall.

 

now, you get 2 lanes coming off 59s to merge with 2 lanes of 45, which narrows to 3 lanes anyway. not to mention if you look upstream on 45, exit for 59s, exit for 59n, and exit for DT destinations. that looks like it will be a whole pile of suck.

 

I just don't see this being a win for traffic.

 

It's a win for midtown with the removal of the pierce, it's a kind of win for east downtown, if they get that cover park. It's a push/loss for north of downtown, and an absolute loss for 3rd ward.

 

what really kind of gets my nose smelling weird things, I read somewhere (maybe swamplot, maybe on a news outlet) that the plan is supposed to be good for growth up to about 2040 (I hope someone finds conflicting information), as presented, this is just the best plan they have, it's not a guarantee to happen. say this does get approved if they start digging before 2020, I'd be shocked, if they finished before 2025 I'd be even more shocked.

 

so this is a freeway plan that is going to cost billions, and completely butt *bad word redacted* traffic for 5 years around downtown, all for just 15 years of use? 

 

All this really comes out to in the end is getting rid of the pierce elevated, at least by my math. Which as slick was quick to point out, it was a bad idea when he had it, now that we've spent millions of dollars of tax payer money and this is the best proposal, from my armchair it appears to still a bad idea.

 

I understand the concerns, but really when has any widening or rebuild really been good for traffic lol. This is more for organization of routes and trying untangle unneeded bottle necks. Hopefully with this push of rerouting 45 it might also help push the diversification of transportation in the city in general. That's the only way you can fight it. We really do have an awesome highway network that should always be improved upon, but what kills it all is the simple fact that we have to many people using the highways in the first place. Highways should be used for through traffic and city to city traffic. Not the single way of getting around the city itself. Maybe this reroute will give the city more confidence to explore reorganizing the road infrastructure in general (once the general plan is created of course). We can't just throw all the eggs into one basket. We need true boulevards, true parkways, and true speedways that aren't highways but are planned for high volumes of traffic moving from one major area to another.

Edited by Luminare
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oh yeah, and how many people are going to exit 45n on pease, race up pease as fast as they can, then enter 45n on the other side of downtown, same can be said of southbound 45 traffic onto jefferson.

 

would be interesting to see them go a little nuts and just dump 2 lanes of the city bound i10 and i45 onto bagby right at the post office, and carry the other 2 lanes up to mckinney/walker. and rather than have houston go into henner over the bayou, push it into mckinney/walker as well. they could add an exit near the 45/59/288 to downtown as well from and going north using some of the existing ROW from the pierce.

 

just get rid of the spur on top of the bayou and the connection they are making from houston to henner, and REALLY open up some greenspace right next to downtown.

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Just a random thought...

 

Once upon a time, the East End Management District was pushing an idea for EaDo Promenade on the abandoned surface of what was Bastrop St. Original renderings showed a outdoor promenade lined with shopts, restaurants, water features and a focal point called Shenzen Garden. Renderings even came complete with KISS on stage lol. That idea turning into Sister Cities Promenade, which then became what it is today, a jogging trail. 

 

http://houston.culturemap.com/news/real-estate/02-01-11-sister-cities-promendade-plans-for-an-international-park-grow-around-the-dynamo-new-stadium/

 

With the new 45/69 combo trenched expressway, hopefully the possibility of 9 block-long deck park could resurrect the original vision of EaDo Promenade. The site would border GRB, BBVA and MMP ...seems like the perfect spot for EaDo Promenade, Part II

 

 

Edited by tigereye
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Midtown just went up a class. Supersized Downtown-Midtown will have a new center--the views coming up 45 South will be simply amazing. What an brilliant piece of urban planning this plan is. It expands the Downtown area by annexing Midtown by removing the perceived differentiation the Pierce has caused. It provides the framework for major parks along the Bayou and over the freeways.

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I don't like the plan so much anymore. The whole thing looks like bowing to yuppies in the Midtown/Downtown area to remove the Pierce Elevated, all while:

 

- Screwing up traffic even further in the area, including adding a bunch of nasty new curves to I-45

- Cutting into less fortunate neighborhoods to appease said yuppies who don't like the Pierce Elevated (talk about robbing from the poor and giving to the rich, eh?)

- Wasting taxpayer money to build some mega-tunnel in connection with removing the Pierce Elevated (and you know, doing everything else)

- Depriving any pleasure from motorists of seeing Houston from an elevated point of view

 

...and then some fools have the gall to want to turn the Pierce Elevated structure into a park, completely negating the original idea of removing it.  <_<

 

That being said, I think *some* of the plan has merit: straightening out Interstate 10 near UH-D isn't a bad plan, really.

Edited by IronTiger
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It kind of reminds me of removing the city walls of Vienna in the 1800's, and replacing it with a bunch of parks, the Ringstrasse, which then becomes arguably the best part of the city. Of course that was already a dense city, not a city that aspired to density.

Still, it seems like if Houston has any chance of ever being a tourism-worthy town, it would require opening up the west side to the bayou and letting that develop. Otherwise it will always be the town that looks awesome to drive through on your way from LA to New Orleans on your cross-country road trip in college.

Edited by H-Town Man
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I don't like the plan so much anymore. The whole thing looks like bowing to yuppies in the Midtown/Downtown area to remove the Pierce Elevated, all while:

- Screwing up traffic even further in the area, including adding a bunch of nasty new curves to I-45

- Cutting into less fortunate neighborhoods to appease said yuppies who don't like the Pierce Elevated (talk about robbing from the poor and giving to the rich, eh?)

- Wasting taxpayer money to build some mega-tunnel in connection with removing the Pierce Elevated (and you know, doing everything else)

- Depriving any pleasure from motorists of seeing Houston from an elevated point of view

...and then some fools have the gall to want to turn the Pierce Elevated structure into a park, completely negating the original idea of removing it. <_<

That being said, I think *some* of the plan has merit: straightening out Interstate 10 near UH-D isn't a bad plan, really.

Traffic will be a concern as always. I honestly have thought for years they should put up those bendy rubber barriers they have before the toll plazas (like on the beltway), on I-10 to the second I-45 left exit signs. What will be my first grey hair are the people who line jump on the 45 southbound lane. Also the 59 exit on 610 heading north from Bellaire. They not only cause the lined up traffic to be delayed, but also the lanes on the current highway to slow down dramatically. That ties into also needing a 6" barrier in the median to prevent/eliminate rubbernecking.

That being said, the traffic on each freeway as it approaches downtown is already slowed down drastically due to the interchange. Hopefully re-routing 45 around the eastern portion of Downtown will prove to help traffic flow. I don't understand the argument about the neighborhoods, every direction of Downtown has already seen the beginning if not total gentrification of the neighborhoods. Sinking the I-69/I-45 super cluster would help to connect Downtown and the East End. Getting rid of the pierce would be the icing on the cake, but if they sank it below grade it would also do wonders.

Edit. Depriving motorists of a view is a a blessing in disguise. You shouldn't be gawking at the skyline. Catching a glimpse of it out of the corner of your eye is great but your eyes should be on the road at all times.

Edited by Montrose1100
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Maybe save one of the spans, make it an elevated viewing platform/greenspace - with a covered market type area underneath

Or we could save every column, but get rid of the platform, and turn the whole stretch into a ground green belt. It will be an ode to the drestruction of neighborhoods and cities by highways. And then we can sell pieces of the platform to museums and universities around the globe like the Berlin Wall.
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Or we could save every column, but get rid of the platform, and turn the whole stretch into a ground green belt. It will be an ode to the drestruction of neighborhoods and cities by highways. And then we can sell pieces of the platform to museums and universities around the globe like the Berlin Wall.

Please please please tell me that was mostly sarcasm.

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I'm all for demolishing it. Put in a parkway with dedicated bike lanes and maybe some nice landscaped sidewalks or park-like areas. The structure itself is an eyesore, and the value of the land alongside it would skyrocket if demo'd. 

Edited by barracuda
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Traffic will be a concern as always. I honestly have thought for years they should put up those bendy rubber barriers they have before the toll plazas (like on the beltway), on I-10 to the second I-45 left exit signs. What will be my first grey hair are the people who line jump on the 45 southbound lane. Also the 59 exit on 610 heading north from Bellaire. They not only cause the lined up traffic to be delayed, but also the lanes on the current highway to slow down dramatically. That ties into also needing a 6" barrier in the median to prevent/eliminate rubbernecking.

That being said, the traffic on each freeway as it approaches downtown is already slowed down drastically due to the interchange. Hopefully re-routing 45 around the eastern portion of Downtown will prove to help traffic flow. I don't understand the argument about the neighborhoods, every direction of Downtown has already seen the beginning if not total gentrification of the neighborhoods. Sinking the I-69/I-45 super cluster would help to connect Downtown and the East End. Getting rid of the pierce would be the icing on the cake, but if they sank it below grade it would also do wonders.

Edit. Depriving motorists of a view is a a blessing in disguise. You shouldn't be gawking at the skyline. Catching a glimpse of it out of the corner of your eye is great but your eyes should be on the road at all times.

 

EDIT 2: 6' not 6" >.> is this a highway for ants?

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I don't like the plan so much anymore. The whole thing looks like bowing to yuppies in the Midtown/Downtown area to remove the Pierce Elevated, all while:

- Screwing up traffic even further in the area, including adding a bunch of nasty new curves to I-45

- Cutting into less fortunate neighborhoods to appease said yuppies who don't like the Pierce Elevated (talk about robbing from the poor and giving to the rich, eh?)

- Wasting taxpayer money to build some mega-tunnel in connection with removing the Pierce Elevated (and you know, doing everything else)

- Depriving any pleasure from motorists of seeing Houston from an elevated point of view

...and then some fools have the gall to want to turn the Pierce Elevated structure into a park, completely negating the original idea of removing it. <_<

That being said, I think *some* of the plan has merit: straightening out Interstate 10 near UH-D isn't a bad plan, really.

Yuppie must mean sensible person that cares about its city and wants progress.

Look I get it you live in college station and haven't visited more than a handful of great cities, if any. But go see some, experience them, stay a while. Then you'll understand.

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I'm also of the "tear it down" persuasion.  I love the NYC High Line, but for me that one works partly because is a narrow elevated ribbon.  The Pierce Elevated is too wide and I can't see how the nether regions below could be made attractive.   This isn't the first time people have talked about trying to make the part underneath attractive, but I just can't envision how that could be done.

 

To me, the best choice would be to replace it with a linear string of parks.

 

Finally, it occurs to me that I may be one of the few people here who remember what it was like driving from west Houston to Gulfgate or Galveston before the Pierce Elevated was built.   We really appreciated it once it was finished.  But now ... it think its time has passed and Houston can implement something else that serves mobility needs, while also creating a more human-friendly local environment.

Edited by ArchFan
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I might be persuaded if the views from the Pierce were nice views. I mean, who wants to see uninterupted views of the ATT box to the north or a graffiti'd up abandoned building to the south?

The only significant building that you can really see is the Humble oil / Exxon building and they're about to glass it over and take all of its character away.

I say good ridance. Save the $ and cap the sunken freeways.

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I doubt that removing the Pierce is actually the driving goal here, driven by "yuppies"

IMO this is driven by practicality of ROW acquisition. The Pierce elevated ROW is basically maxed out, and is also hemmed in by some pretty expensive relatively developed real estate. The area east of 59 is relatively sparse and industrial by comparison plus land values are lower. There may be some minimal gains in traffic flow by having the freeways run side by side for longer periods, but I bet that acquiring 1 block worth of ROW along 59 and selling the half block width Pierce ROW is simply viewed to be a more realistic undertaking than acquiring another half block width of ROW along Pierce and Gray to add the necessary lanes to 45.

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I doubt that removing the Pierce is actually the driving goal here, driven by "yuppies"

IMO this is driven by practicality of ROW acquisition. The Pierce elevated ROW is basically maxed out, and is also hemmed in by some pretty expensive relatively developed real estate. The area east of 59 is relatively sparse and industrial by comparison plus land values are lower. There may be some minimal gains in traffic flow by having the freeways run side by side for longer periods, but I bet that acquiring 1 block worth of ROW along 59 and selling the half block width Pierce ROW is simply viewed to be a more realistic undertaking than acquiring another half block width of ROW along Pierce and Gray to add the necessary lanes to 45.

 

Agree with this wholeheartedly. Likewise, I don't quite understand the criticisms about this being TxDOT kowtowing to Midtown yuppies. That isn't how Houston works, nor has it ever has been. If anything, it's acquiescing to the desire of developers who see 13 blocks with a potentially unique amenity - a direct ramp to and from the northern and western suburbs, while knitting Midtown and Downtown together. I don't see this as being a residential play at all - it's the kind of spot where you'd want monumental commercial projects that would command significant premiums.

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I'm going to get into the weeds here w/ this question:

 

Did anyone ask / have any information on how this will affect TXDOT's rebuild of the Elysian Viaduct? From the schematics, it doesn't seem to be grade separated anymore. Although I could just be reading them incorrectly.

 

Does this mean that TXDOT is scrapping its plans to rebuild it? If so, it'll add one more reason the I45 project is a good thing.

 

 

I have always failed to see how the Elysian viaduct rebuild will truly benefit the toll road / really help mobility.

 

If the Hardy to 59 connectors also tie into the new downtown exits / on-ramps, does it make sense to completely rebuild a road that drops you off 3 blocks to the west?

 

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This would likely be a different and more complicated problem if the Pierce elevated actually connected any destinations, since TxDOT would need to figure out a more complicated design likely still utilizing the current 45 ROW to maintain access, but since the Pierce elevated is basically just a through way for the 45 mainlanes it really doesn't matter if those lanes exist in any particular ROW.   As far as I can tell the only destination impact is for northbound Gulf Fwy traffic that intends to get to Allen Pkwy and Memorial Dr, but that doesn't seem like it'd be a particularly large affected group.

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The plan requires significant use of eminent domain in EaDo.  Something like 15+ full blocks that will need to be acquired.  I would be surprised if the land under the Pierce elevated isn't being thought of as a way to offset land acquisition costs.

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I might be persuaded if the views from the Pierce were nice views. I mean, who wants to see uninterupted views of the ATT box to the north or a graffiti'd up abandoned building to the south?

The only significant building that you can really see is the Humble oil / Exxon building and they're about to glass it over and take all of its character away.

I say good ridance. Save the $ and cap the sunken freeways.

Things will change at the time they finish the whole project,at least 10 years I suppose. The Pierce will not be removed till they finished the new highway. This will surely be a stimulus to areas close to the Pierce.

And, you can call the Att also has its "characters" lol.

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I doubt that removing the Pierce is actually the driving goal here, driven by "yuppies"

IMO this is driven by practicality of ROW acquisition. The Pierce elevated ROW is basically maxed out, and is also hemmed in by some pretty expensive relatively developed real estate. The area east of 59 is relatively sparse and industrial by comparison plus land values are lower. There may be some minimal gains in traffic flow by having the freeways run side by side for longer periods, but I bet that acquiring 1 block worth of ROW along 59 and selling the half block width Pierce ROW is simply viewed to be a more realistic undertaking than acquiring another half block width of ROW along Pierce and Gray to add the necessary lanes to 45.

Hmmm, I think that you may be right. The Pierce was already hemmed in by pricey ROW, and the Pierce is already over capacity and by the time all this is said and done, the Pierce will need to be replaced anyway. Double-decking the Pierce I don't think is a realistic option either...but maybe it could be. After all, Uptown throttled how much 610 could expand, didn't it? Am I not correct in reading that double-decking 610 in Uptown was proposed, but Uptown put the kibosh on it?

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What if the could somehow form a ramp from the park over the trenches 59/45 that rose up to the Pierce Elevated?

 

BFS, see below. 

 

The 69S to 45N flyover ramp.. Connect any trail system by means of that.

but yeah. no Pierce. and no parkway, please. we already have St Joseph Parkway running along the north stretch. why make it wider and create another physical barrier?

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Im not certain, but part of the 610 ROW is within Memorial Park, so I think that actually opposition to more lanes and more ROW came from people opposed to any loss of park.  I don't recall anything about the 59 interchange in particular.

Edited by JJxvi
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I was against this,initially, but am having some serious creative ideas if it were to be repurposed. You're doubling usable public space by repurposing the structure. Underneath? Covered regional 6 day/wk farmer's market with cafés and food trucks....put lipstick on that pig and it is a double decker spine of community activity that JOINS downtown and midtown. It becomes a uniter not a divider... ;)

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I know I read somewhere that the last time they redid the 610/59 interchange, TxDot wanted to increase capacity but the neighborhood nixed it

Wasn't the rebuild of the 610/59 interchange partially to incorporate the Westpark Tollway? I also did read that around 1990, they wanted to build an "Uptown Parkway" (or something), a project that would restore a true north-south surface street to the area (something Post Oak Blvd. used to do, and would alleviate congestion in the area), but they didn't want to lose Memorial Park and also canned the idea.

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Hmmm, I think that you may be right. The Pierce was already hemmed in by pricey ROW, and the Pierce is already over capacity and by the time all this is said and done, the Pierce will need to be replaced anyway. Double-decking the Pierce I don't think is a realistic option either...but maybe it could be. After all, Uptown throttled how much 610 could expand, didn't it? Am I not correct in reading that double-decking 610 in Uptown was proposed, but Uptown put the kibosh on it?

 

I don't think it's the area around midtown that would keep them from expanding 45, they could easily add 2-3 lanes if they were to expand over top of pierce street. it's when you get over towards the bayou that you start to have troubles adding lanes to it the way it currently exists. 

 

The cheapest solution would probably be to add 4 lanes total over the top of the current 45 row, 2 nb 2 sb. it would be a bypass only. you enter/exit somewhere around scott street on the south side, and enter/exit somewhere around hogan street on the north side.

 

As far as certain groups having more feedback and input up to this point (more than others), I think it's naive to assume that an entity such as the midtown tirz hasn't had at least some form of involvement. I'm not saying they have, but this has been known to the public since 2002 according to the history page on the i45north and more site. I think it's safe to assume that areas of town that have money to invest would have spent time at least providing more feedback than an area that doesn't have that kind of luxury.

 

Maybe slickvic is right, they should just demolish the pierce elevated, but then they should also demolish 59 and i10 around downtown as well. they can leave the connections from 45-59 on the south side of town. leave the connection from 45-i10 on the northwest, and 59-i10 on the northeast.

 

610 will be popular, and people will stop creating traffic by driving on 45 inside the loop to go from the woodlands to galveston, or from stafford to cleveland, or katy to baytown.

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pedestrian activity to/from St Josephs, the METRO building, and Mickey Leeland Federal Building? i just don't see it happening. how many people live in 2016 Main anyways? it would be legit for those residents, but lets face it.. why spend all this money for a mediocre residential high-rise to have a pretty elevated park in front of it for access to the transit authority headquarters, the hospital, and federal offices? it doesn't make sense. the idea is cool, but I'm with Luminare. it was fun scheming up new designs to repurpose it, but tear that thing down.

like i said earlier. build a few lofty, airy elevated platforms here and there for skyline views and performances underneath, or build a brand new "HighLine" through a part of downtown were trying to revitalize. but just because its already there doesn't mean it makes sense to repurpose it. but if you must.. it would be better to ditch some of the southern traffic flow along Bagby towards the i69 spur and only save the a narrow section of the western portion of the pierce from Buffalo Bayou to the curve around Mickey Leeland, and instead of make the turn, follow a narrowed Bagby that features a wide hike/bike path along it going south into Midtown, possibly going as far south as W Alabama or even Richmond. the Pierce section turn east between downtown and midtown is pointless IMO, and would be better served developed and with a few parks at ground level.

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I would bet that if was announced as a real thing, the remaining half lots bordering the Pierce elevated would suddenly have high rise residential development.  Just look at Market square - build a park and they will come

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