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I-45 Rebuild (North Houston Highway Improvement Project)


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The image of the Standard Hotel straddling the High Line (#10) intrigues me. Perhaps this idea does have potential. I'm changing my vote.

 

Let's have our cake and eat it too. Make the Pierce SkyPark while also selling off aerial rights to build above and/or below the SkyPark.

 

No demo cost to TxDOT. TxDOT makes money from selling development rights. TxDOT wins with positive PR. The city wins with another world class signature park. The city wins with more valuable property on the tax rolls. Park patrons benefit with shade from buildings built over the park (will be very nice come mid-summer). With the park being integrated thru, over, and under buildings, the divide between Downtown and Midtown will be erased the same as if the Pierce were demolished. Individual building developers would likely add improvements to their section of park to make their building even more attractive.

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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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yeah. i cut my elevated bike path design through the middle of a few blocks in southeast downtown in Phase 2 to purposely allow people to build over/straddle the path. developers could implement things like bike garages that open up to the path, bike shops, health/"fit" food/drink places, and possibly have little stop offs inside some of the buildings along the path for bikers to pull off to a side area and cool off.

i still say get rid of the Pierce and sell the land under it. how are you going to sell air rights over the pierce if there is a road on one side? not really anywhere to put a foundation to straddle the structure without getting rid of Pierce St. the Pierce is like 100' wide.. that bike path in Copenhagen is all of 13' wide.

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All 4 panelists (Midway, CBRE, Hines, Houston First) at the downtown redevelopment meeting today were supportive of the 45 reroute and enthusiastic about the changes the project could bring to downtown and the surrounding areas.

Heh. Looks like a HBJ rep was at the meeting I was at this morning..

http://m.bizjournals.com/houston/blog/breaking-ground/2015/04/houston-real-estate-heavyweights-all-for-downtown.html

A Texas Department of Transportation proposal to realign Interstate 45 downtown with Highway 59 would render the Pierce Elevated, a portion of I-45 that runs along Pierce Street through the central business district, unused. At a recent Urban Land Institute panel on downtown Houston, real estate experts were united in support of the plan to demolish or transform the Pierce Elevated.

The group of panelists, representing various sectors of the real estate industry including office, multifamily and retail, all agreed that the plan would lessen or remove a barrier between areas of downtown that could result in improved connectivity and more development.

"I couldn't be more enthusiastic about it," said Sanford Criner, vice chairman at CBRE with more than 40 years' experience with office leasing and development. "Mobility is always important, but our problem isn't getting people downtown, it's what can we do with them when they're here

Suzanne Anderson, vice president at Midway with 25 years of retail experience, said the proposed change would increase retailers' desire to enter the area.

"We need to get that pioneer retailer downtown, and then others will follow. There's interest for a Target or a Macy's. But they are looking for co-tenancy and a sense of place," Anderson said. "This is an exciting opportunity. Anyone can build a building, but if you build a sense of place that enriches people's lives, that's when you're really successful."

TXDOT is still receiving community input by hosting public meetings, as Houston Public Media reported. An idea has been floated that instead of demolishing the Pierce Elevated, an elevated park similar to Manhattan's High Line could be a draw for retailers, residents and office tenants alike. The Houston Chronicle reported on the idea's feasibility, and one group has developed preliminary plans and a website, calling their idea Pierce Skypark.

"When it comes to office, people always say, 'Do the employers want to come down there?' And that's the opposite of the right question. If employees want to come downtown, then employers will come," Criner said. "If you didn't have a freeway there — put a park there. What a great idea! I can't believe TXDOT came up with this idea. Bless 'em."

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actually this is pretty sweet.. unfortunately(?) TxDot plans on preserving Pierce west/north for a parkway/downtown connectors, so the whole left side of this plan would be void. i like the idea of a big lake in the trench under W Dallas though, and obviously its neat to think of new developments incorporating themselves into the park.lg_pierce_overall_sml.jpg

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While I think it would be cool for this 'sky park' I think it's critical that funding be secured for the park to cover 45/59/288 first.

 

The thing is, remove the pierce and it will help make that area more contiguous, but it will be at a high price, namely doubling the width of the the freeway on the east side of downtown (widening the split between downtown and the east end), which will hurt that still damaged area. doubly, as it is seen by tourists to the city more readily (baseball, soccer, basketball, convention goers), something needs to be done to help lift the image in that area.

 

So yeah, I hope that this park can go forward, but I hope that the people pushing for this park don't screw over the east side (and overall Houston tourism) for this skypark. 

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great point Samagon. someone else (could of been you?) mentioned that previously but its been a while since that was brought up.. any deck park over 59/45 is going to have to be 18 lanes of traffic, plus 8 shoulder widths wide.. thats twice as wide as the Klyde Warren deck park, and the proposed length would make it around twice as long. 4 times the size of Klyde Warren.. which cost over $100 million. so were looking at a half billion dollar deck park. i don't think we can justify decking all of the 45/59 gap for that price (not sure we need to deck directly behind the GRB.. that building cuts off any connectivity on those 5 or so blocks between downtown and the east end), but we will need every dollar philanthropists throw at the city for this new east downtown deck park.

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Howdy HAIFers. Longtime listener, first time caller.

 

I disagree that the combined 45-59 trench found in the latest proposal will render the Pierce unneccessary. Rather, I think there are so many additional managed lanes planned for Downtown that we will still need the Pierce - in addition to the combined trench - to convey it all.

 

http://purple.city/2015/04/30/making-things-worse/

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Howdy HAIFers. Longtime listener, first time caller.

 

I disagree that the combined 45-59 trench found in the latest proposal will render the Pierce unneccessary. Rather, I think there are so many additional managed lanes planned for Downtown that we will still need the Pierce - in addition to the combined trench - to convey it all.

 

http://purple.city/2015/04/30/making-things-worse/

 

always assumed the person that liked Screw and Hall and Oates would be my dream match. but no. F the Peirce.

 

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Mind boggling.

 

I'm having visions of 30 years worth of lane closures.

 

But on the flip side, any local construction sector workers that might reasonably fear the effect of cycles in the commodity markets on their livelihoods might feel better about job security.

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http://purple.city/2015/04/30/making-things-worse/

 

Interesting points in this essay posted on Swamplot today. On the other hand, I think this is more demonstrative of deficiencies in peripheral freeway system for through traffic, rather than the downtown system itself.

  1. 610 is being underutilized for through traffic. This is primarily because of the West Loop and 290 bottlenecks. 
  2. TxDOT's Houston Division signing policies do not encourage utilization of peripheral routes. If 610 had "Dallas", "Beaumont", "San Antonio", "Galveston" and "Victoria" control cities in appropriate locations, rather than having blank control cities, through traffic would be more inclined to use the route to bypass downtown, as originally intended. This is particularly egregious for I-45 through traffic, where the downtown route and the 610 East Loop route are essentially equivalent.

Thoughts?

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http://purple.city/2015/04/30/making-things-worse/

 

Interesting points in this essay posted on Swamplot today. On the other hand, I think this is more demonstrative of deficiencies in peripheral freeway system for through traffic, rather than the downtown system itself.

  1. 610 is being underutilized for through traffic. This is primarily because of the West Loop and 290 bottlenecks. 
  2. TxDOT's Houston Division signing policies do not encourage utilization of peripheral routes. If 610 had "Dallas", "Beaumont", "San Antonio", "Galveston" and "Victoria" control cities in appropriate locations, rather than having blank control cities, through traffic would be more inclined to use the route to bypass downtown, as originally intended. This is particularly egregious for I-45 through traffic, where the downtown route and the 610 East Loop route are essentially equivalent.

Thoughts?

 

I agree fully, considering I said something similar a few pages back, only not as well because I don't write English good.

 

But, I think the main point of what was written was that the main cause of traffic currently is through traffic, and this redesign doesn't do anything to help ease that congestion at all.

 

At the end of the day, we get rid of the pierce elevated, destroy some surface level streets and *maybe* get a park over a much wider gulf on the east side of town.

Edited by samagon
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No, 610 is awful. On all sides. Every once in a blue moon google maps tells me to take it.

610 from I-10 to 45 S is jammed mostly during rush hour. The bridge over the ship channel combined the big rigs and really dumb drivers doing 45mph in the left lane and even trucks driving in the left lane make this portion useless.

The curved after the 225 exit makes everyone slow down dramatically. And just when you think you can pick up speed, the 225 lanes have to merge onto 610, and turn into the 45 exit lanes. Not to mention the people (like me), trying to exit Broadway. Then after the 45 exits, the left lane ends, causing even more of a slow down.

The next stretch pretty much to 59 is not too terrible. I may be an asshole by saying this but you can always tell when you drive through the poor areas (610 south & 225), people in these junk cars that are smoking white exhaust go 50mph in the passing lane and cause traffic to back up.

These poor people are every color of the rainbow so don't take that out of context. Also old people on I10 east do this (Go back to the casino before I pop a blood vessel).

Anyways, so 610 north from I-10 is always pretty smooth. Passing 90 & 59 with not problems in the left 3 lanes. Then you come up to the Hardy/45 cluster mess and you're crawling. Line jumpers galore, going 70 in the exit lane for 45 south then last minute jumping into the 610 W lanes.

Then things pick up for a minute until the 290 interchange.

I don't need to speak of the 59 to 290 section of the loop.

So anyways using the loop as some alternative method is complete bogus. Even if there was no traffic you're still shaving 5-10 minutes off your commute by cutting through on i10 & i45.

Does anyone take 210 in Lake Charles or just drive through?

Edited by Montrose1100
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Thoughts?

 

A lot of the backup on 610 is actually due to capacity constraints on the radial freeways just outside the Loop. You can see this on the 5:30pm Friday traffic image.

 

On the north side, you have a tight-radius ramp from the North Loop to 45 North, and then a mad scramble to the left as traffic from 610 tries to avoid getting sucked into the Crosstimbers and Airline offramps. That bottleneck jams the North Loop all the way back to 290, at which point the construction zone takes over. It also slows down the North Freeway into the Heights.

 

On the south side, both directions of 610 merge into 45 and then you lose a lane to the Park Place exit, so there's only four through lanes going past original Kelley's. That backs up the South Loop and 45 as far as Wayside. You have a similar situation on 288 south, where there's only three lanes going over Reed. That stacks up the South Loop as far west as Main/90A. On a bad day, the backup from 45 extends back as far as 288, and you experience the entirety of the South Loop as one continuous traffic jam. But 610 isn't the root cause, the radials are.

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I agree fully, considering I said something similar a few pages back, only not as well because I don't write English good.

 

But, I think the main point of what was written was that the main cause of traffic currently is through traffic, and this redesign doesn't do anything to help ease that congestion at all.

 

At the end of the day, we get rid of the pierce elevated, destroy some surface level streets and *maybe* get a park over a much wider gulf on the east side of town.

 

I was wondering where these thoughts came from... you're spot on with the point of the project. Personally, I think it's worth it, mainly because given the above issues, there's no way to fix downtown for through traffic.

 

 

 

Does anyone take 210 in Lake Charles or just drive through? 

 

Took 210 both ways last weekend, since 10 was jam packed due to lane closures.

Edited by ADCS
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http://purple.city/2015/04/30/making-things-worse/

Interesting points in this essay posted on Swamplot today. On the other hand, I think this is more demonstrative of deficiencies in peripheral freeway system for through traffic, rather than the downtown system itself.

  • 610 is being underutilized for through traffic. This is primarily because of the West Loop and 290 bottlenecks.
  • TxDOT's Houston Division signing policies do not encourage utilization of peripheral routes. If 610 had "Dallas", "Beaumont", "San Antonio", "Galveston" and "Victoria" control cities in appropriate locations, rather than having blank control cities, through traffic would be more inclined to use the route to bypass downtown, as originally intended. This is particularly egregious for I-45 through traffic, where the downtown route and the 610 East Loop route are essentially equivalent.
Thoughts?

The interstate program was never meant to barrel through cities, Eisenhower himself never wanted that. The idea was to have loops like 610 to avoid the center. But local politics from congressmen bastardized the original plan.

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http://purple.city/2015/04/30/making-things-worse/

 

Interesting points in this essay posted on Swamplot today. On the other hand, I think this is more demonstrative of deficiencies in peripheral freeway system for through traffic, rather than the downtown system itself.

  1. 610 is being underutilized for through traffic. This is primarily because of the West Loop and 290 bottlenecks. 
  2. TxDOT's Houston Division signing policies do not encourage utilization of peripheral routes. If 610 had "Dallas", "Beaumont", "San Antonio", "Galveston" and "Victoria" control cities in appropriate locations, rather than having blank control cities, through traffic would be more inclined to use the route to bypass downtown, as originally intended. This is particularly egregious for I-45 through traffic, where the downtown route and the 610 East Loop route are essentially equivalent.

Thoughts?

 

The purple city article seems to have the lane counts wrong.  At least I can't make sense of the lane counts he shows for the new plan.  I think his claim that the plan adds no through capacity is just wrong.

 

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I tend to agree that if one were to attempt to make 610 at all attractive to through traffic, it would have to be much larger in places where there is very expensive ROW or accommodate changes to the problems that screwston is talking about.  If I'm going anywhere across town, I'm not touching 610 unless there is a lane closure. You can pretty much count on significant congestion from the Gulf freeway clockwise around to the Hardy in any kind of busy traffic period.  We're getting to LA scale traffic here with it being everywhere in all directions nearly all the time.  

 

I don't think there is a solution (apart from economic contraction). I'm guessing that even if there were something else big like heavy commuter rail put in from the big 'burbs, the result would just be more density further out, with the same amount of commuting pain on net.

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The Purple City analysis brings up some good points. In my view, these are the most egregious design flaws of the recommended design

1. Reducing Interstate 45 to two lanes in each direction at US 59

2. Reducing Interstate 10 to two lanes in each direction (eastbound at I-45, westbound at US 59). This is not as serious as I-45 because of the I-10 express lanes.

3. Reducing the Interstate 10 express lanes to 1 lane in each direction at the west end.

4. Reducing I-45 northbound from six lanes to four lanes at the North Main exit

For comparison, US 59 maintains at least four lanes northbound and three lanes southbound all the way through downtown. I do recognize that these lane reductions are likely caused by lane balance issues, and compromises needed to be made.

 

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Howdy HAIFers. Longtime listener, first time caller.

 

I disagree that the combined 45-59 trench found in the latest proposal will render the Pierce unneccessary. Rather, I think there are so many additional managed lanes planned for Downtown that we will still need the Pierce - in addition to the combined trench - to convey it all.

 

http://purple.city/2015/04/30/making-things-worse/

 

I agree, SD. For the transportation perspective, it would be better to keep the Pierce Elevated, even if only for managed lane through traffic. It is always better to have multiple routes than a single massive route. With multiple routes, a disruption on a route has less impact because an alternate route(s) is available. With the mega-spine on the east side of downtown, a major incident could bring the entire network to a halt.

 

But highways and politics are closely intertwined, so I think the Pierce is doomed, even for beneficial park purposes (ie http://pierceelevatedpark.com and http://pierceskypark.com)

 

The original downtown freeway plan devised in the 1950s was intended to please the politically powerful downtown business establishment, which wanted maximum accessibility from all directions to keep them the "center of the universe". Connections into downtown are very good from almost all directions, and downtown did very well as a business and office center.

Today, the downtown business establishment is not as dominant as in the 1950s, but still has plenty of influence. My perception is that their top priority is to get rid of the Pierce Elevated. Politically powerful interests usually get what they want, so the result is the recommended plan. Politics (and other objectives) prevail over good transportation principles. It's a political environment that gives a grim prognosis for repurposing the Pierce Elevated to a park.  :-(

 

 

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it also reduces 45 north to 2 lanes at 10.

 

can someone give me a crayon and construction paper, I have a vision...

 

looking at google maps, it seems to me that they could add 2 additional lanes in each direction if they expand on top of pierce street, and then rather than going under Dallas, go over Dallas. 

 

Remove/reconfigure the entrance from Allen Parkway to 45 south and add 1 additional lane in each direction. done. fraction of the cost.

 

Remove ramps from 59 south to 45 north, and i10 west to 45 south. make the entrance from memorial to 45 south more graceful.

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Why are the highways separated instead of merging and then splitting off?  I assume its to increase speed but how so?

 

It reduces weaving, and the frictional effects that weaving causes.

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Some interstates are dual signed - 410/35 in San Antonio as well as 75/64 in Lexington come to mind - but the lack of weaving would make sense.  Still wonder though if you couldn't get more flow through with it all one giant highway - you would get two more lanes in each direction from removing the extra shoulders.  But of course you add lanes, the traffic will come...

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If they merge them it'll end up being another 610/290 disaster. Keeping them separated like the new 290 to I-10/610 to I-10 and the 290/610 to 610 makes things so much less stressful

 

Its actually easy to see where they got the inspiration from! We are looking at their model for highway construction for the next 20-30 years.

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http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/05/houstons-urban-interstate-debate-transform-or-tear-down/392546/

More from CityLab, following up on what was posted in the Chronicle earlier this week. Gives an evenhanded look at all the potential uses for the Pierce land.

The comment made by the guy named Jesse in the link above makes some good points. This proposed relocation is transferring a psychological barrier from Midtown to the near northside. In order to clear the light rail overpass, the elevated freeway will be pretty high.

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The comment made by the guy named Jesse in the link above makes some good points. This proposed relocation is transferring a psychological barrier from Midtown to the near northside. In order to clear the light rail overpass, the elevated freeway will be pretty high.

This is true; on the other hand, the railroad tracks are already there.

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yeah, it's a great idea to continue making the psychological barriers bigger.

 

What says "Keep on your side of the fence" more:

 

a 4' white picket fence with like 3" gaps

 

-or-

 

an 8' fence with no gaps

 

The north side will suck, adding bigger barriers increase the psychological barrier, but I think the east side will be more tragic in this situation, as mentioned the north side already has railway, bayou, freeway cutting through and while it's not as bad as it has been in the past, it's still no where near where west, and south of downtown have come, and where the east is going right now. It's been probably half a century since the east of town has been ticking upwards, and now it's doing it, there's high profile stadiums that bring people over there (even if just to park their cars), people are moving into the area, people are going there for the nightlife experience.

 

Midtown has done well re-establishing itself even with the pierce being there, the east downtown district is starting to follow in the footsteps of midtown, I'd say they're a good 5 years lagging midtown, but what happens if you take away one whole blocks worth of area? Specifically where a lot of establishing has been happening?

Edited by samagon
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Depends on if they actually put the park deck over the trenched super-freeway or not.  If they do, it might make east downtown a part of downtown, with the park deck running down the middle like a promenade or something.

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You're right, the park would help for sure. I think that's the most disappointing feature of the idea of re purposing the pierce elevated. Please don't get me wrong, the more green space we have in this town the better we are, but I think if this grand plan of re-aligning the freeways comes to fruition the focus needs to first be on securing funding for decking and park over 288/45/59, then and only then find and spend money on making pierce a park.

 

And maybe I'm misunderstanding all the people who want to see the pierce remain as a park, maybe they mean to see the decked park happen first, and then see pierce turned into a park, but that's not how I'm reading it, it reads to me like they are out for the pierce park and nothing else matters.

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I would be willing to have the lots under the current pierce elevated be sold and half of them stay parking lots if we could get that park deck built

 

This is critical to the project. It is far more as a whole than the sum of its parts.

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It's nice to have a well defined district. The edges that are created may actually be beneficial to the neighborhoods adjacent to Downtown/Midtown in the sense that each is clearly delineated. You wouldn't put a 40 story office building up in the Third Ward or Northside, but removing the Pierce makes Midtown just as attractive an option as Downtown for that same building. The edges that are created are Houston's form of de facto zoning.

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The one thing I think is an epic fail is the park on 45 between 10 and 610. A park between freeway lanes seems very unhealthy from a respiratory perspective.

 

That's all? What about the proposed disruption of the street grid in Third Ward by the to-be-trenched 59?

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

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