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I-45 Rebuild (North Houston Highway Improvement Project)

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If the goal is to allow for growth in the suburbs, then why is the project being sold to everyone as a way to reduce traffic and pollution?

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Exactly this. It is past time we stop valuing "growth" for its own sake and start asking where we want that growth to be. 

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2 hours ago, Texasota said:

Exactly this. It is past time we stop valuing "growth" for its own sake and start asking where we want that growth to be. 

It doesn't really matter where you want the growth, the growth will be where people want to live, and that's not in mid or high rise apartments, or townhouses, inside the Loop. The reason those large MPC's in the middle of nowhere sell like hotcakes is that's where people want to live, in single family homes with a yard, a garage to store their stuff, and schools that are perceived to be good.

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Then why do the townhouses sell quickly and the midrise apartment buildings keep raising their rents?

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Because townhomes (which generally have a garage to store stuff in) inside the loop sell poorly? Houses built out in the boonies sell because they're affordable, and they're affordable because they're cheaply built *and* the cost of land is basically nil. 

 

Not to say that there aren't people who want that lifestyle, but there are plenty of people who would be happy to buy a townhome inside the loop *if* they could get into a "good" school and pay the same as they would out in the boonies. There are also plenty of people willing to pay more; again, townhomes inside the loop are selling just fine. 

 

The problem is that the relative cheapness of houses out in the middle of nowhere is the result of pricing *only* reflecting the cost of land and not the cost of new infrastructure or the impact on regional resilience and future flooding.

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1 hour ago, Texasota said:

Because townhomes (which generally have a garage to store stuff in) inside the loop sell poorly? Houses built out in the boonies sell because they're affordable, and they're affordable because they're cheaply built *and* the cost of land is basically nil. 

 

Not to say that there aren't people who want that lifestyle, but there are plenty of people who would be happy to buy a townhome inside the loop *if* they could get into a "good" school and pay the same as they would out in the boonies. There are also plenty of people willing to pay more; again, townhomes inside the loop are selling just fine. 

 

The problem is that the relative cheapness of houses out in the middle of nowhere is the result of pricing *only* reflecting the cost of land and not the cost of new infrastructure or the impact on regional resilience and future flooding.

 Schools and cost of housing is why my friends moved to the suburbs.  

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6 hours ago, cspwal said:

Then why do the townhouses sell quickly and the midrise apartment buildings keep raising their rents?

 

Supply and demand.  It's also why the houses in mpc's way outside the loop sell like hotcakes.

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6 hours ago, Texasota said:

Because townhomes (which generally have a garage to store stuff in) inside the loop sell poorly? Houses built out in the boonies sell because they're affordable, and they're affordable because they're cheaply built *and* the cost of land is basically nil. 

 

Not to say that there aren't people who want that lifestyle, but there are plenty of people who would be happy to buy a townhome inside the loop *if* they could get into a "good" school and pay the same as they would out in the boonies. There are also plenty of people willing to pay more; again, townhomes inside the loop are selling just fine. 

 

The problem is that the relative cheapness of houses out in the middle of nowhere is the result of pricing *only* reflecting the cost of land and not the cost of new infrastructure or the impact on regional resilience and future flooding.

 

I wouldn't put too much reliance on those townhomes inside the loop being built with any more care than the ones out in the boonies.  It's just that the laws of supply and demand allow the builders to charge more for the same construction techniques inside the loop.

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Oh of course. Most (though definitely not all) of the townhomes are built just as poorly, especially once suburban builders realized how profitable they were and entered the market.

 

My point was more that there is plenty of demand for homes on smaller lots in the city, but because of the difference in the vale of land (and because demand is so high), a family that can only afford, say, a $200,000 home has far more options out in the new developments, and that is because the way these new developments are financed does not fully capture and pass on their true costs. This is also despite the fact that housing costs in Houston proper are still relatively low compared to other cities.

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3 hours ago, Texasota said:

Oh of course. Most (though definitely not all) of the townhomes are built just as poorly, especially once suburban builders realized how profitable they were and entered the market.

 

My point was more that there is plenty of demand for homes on smaller lots in the city, but because of the difference in the vale of land (and because demand is so high), a family that can only afford, say, a $200,000 home has far more options out in the new developments, and that is because the way these new developments are financed does not fully capture and pass on their true costs. This is also despite the fact that housing costs in Houston proper are still relatively low compared to other cities.

 

Agreed.  There is never a time when all the infrastructure that is really needed is factored into the price of the house.  Any house, anywhere.  We rely on the government for that and pay for it one way or the other.  Our system for dealing with housing and transportation is necessarily mixed and has been since the beginning of time.  The two extremes on either end of that spectrum would be 100% private financing and building and 100% government financing and building.  I can't even think of an example at the country level of 100% private, but 100% public would be the soviet model.

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as I have been venturing out of my home and just driving around in an effort to change the scenery a little bit, I am struck by how absolutely empty freeways are.

 

It frustrates me to no end that our state is not willing to embrace public transportation, but I still want to see that idea happen, and this freeway expansion not happen.

 

as we all sit here working from our homes, rather than traveling into offices, another thought sticks out like the cliche'd elephant in the room.

 

why not spend the money that would go towards this freeway on programs that encourage working from home? I have referenced a study previously in this thread from Belgium that a reduction in 10% of cars results in a 40% reduction in traffic. surely we are seeing an even greater reduction in cars for a 100% reduction in traffic. 

 

the benefits are obvious, lower pollution, fewer accidents, less traffic. 

 

this city could reduce traffic ALL OVER TOWN (not just on this freeway) it could reduce road/highway maintenance costs, it would reduce road closures for projects like this. it would remove the need to remove people from their homes and communities, the cost savings alone is reason to choose this instead of more construction.

 

I have a hunch that even if the government doesn't offer incentives for WFH that a lot of companies that had resisted will probably start to adjust. even if that adjustment is only to allow 3 days WFH, and 2 days in the office, we are going to see a change naturally as a result of this pandemic.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, samagon said:

as I have been venturing out of my home and just driving around in an effort to change the scenery a little bit, I am struck by how absolutely empty freeways are.

 

It frustrates me to no end that our state is not willing to embrace public transportation, but I still want to see that idea happen, and this freeway expansion not happen.

 

as we all sit here working from our homes, rather than traveling into offices, another thought sticks out like the cliche'd elephant in the room.

 

why not spend the money that would go towards this freeway on programs that encourage working from home? I have referenced a study previously in this thread from Belgium that a reduction in 10% of cars results in a 40% reduction in traffic. surely we are seeing an even greater reduction in cars for a 100% reduction in traffic. 

 

the benefits are obvious, lower pollution, fewer accidents, less traffic. 

 

this city could reduce traffic ALL OVER TOWN (not just on this freeway) it could reduce road/highway maintenance costs, it would reduce road closures for projects like this. it would remove the need to remove people from their homes and communities, the cost savings alone is reason to choose this instead of more construction.

 

I have a hunch that even if the government doesn't offer incentives for WFH that a lot of companies that had resisted will probably start to adjust. even if that adjustment is only to allow 3 days WFH, and 2 days in the office, we are going to see a change naturally as a result of this pandemic.

 

Just to clarify, that it is not exactly what was reported.  It was reported that "10% fewer cars on the roads would mean a 40% reduction in traffic jams.https://www2.deloitte.com/be/en/pages/strategy-operations/articles/future-of-mobility-press-release.html   More important, I don't know where that conclusion came from. I cannot find it anywhere in the actual study.https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/be/Documents/strategy/FOMBrochureFinalVersion.pdf

It's in the press release about the study, but it does not seem to be in the study.

Edited by Houston19514

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4 hours ago, samagon said:

as I have been venturing out of my home and just driving around in an effort to change the scenery a little bit, I am struck by how absolutely empty freeways are.

 

I've been on "isolation island" for several weeks.  It was weird seeing so little traffic on the highways on my drive home..

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Posted (edited)
On 3/18/2020 at 7:25 AM, Texasota said:

Oh of course. Most (though definitely not all) of the townhomes are built just as poorly, especially once suburban builders realized how profitable they were and entered the market.

 

My point was more that there is plenty of demand for homes on smaller lots in the city, but because of the difference in the vale of land (and because demand is so high), a family that can only afford, say, a $200,000 home has far more options out in the new developments, and that is because the way these new developments are financed does not fully capture and pass on their true costs. This is also despite the fact that housing costs in Houston proper are still relatively low compared to other cities.

 

Just to give people insight into the plight of the 25-35 year old crew, a mix of professionals and non-professionals in my extended group of friends/acquaintances: A 200,000 move-in ready suburban home with a decent yard, big enough to house a family of 4, and a good school district doesn't really exist in the Burbs anymore. 300,000, yes, but a true 200k home is a fantasy unless you are in the far, far out burbs or the house is in a mid-level, or lower, floodplain. For example, speaking to you guys talking about passing on the buck in terms of infrastructure, I've helped some clients with their issues with their kingwood/atascocita flooding. Moving to the burbs, an easy assumption for where people move to in Houston, still comes with these types of traps, where developers hurt the floodplain and the residents don't know. 

 

When a cheaper house occasionally does pop up in Pearland/Sugarland/Tomball my friends are losing out to people putting down 60% + cash on the homes, which should tell people that the people buying those homes are investors looking to lease or flip the house. My dad lives in a suburban home inside of the beltway but outside of 610, and was in talks with people to have it bought for 140k, mostly cash. It is not in a good school district (I went to it), and it was built in the 70s. There are some underlying assumptions in this thread that I believe doesn't reflect what younger people are seeing in the market.

 

I actually have been doing the research on HAR and Zillow for myself for a year or so, if you want to be in the loop and have at least two of the kid's schools you're automatically zoned to be B or better on Greatschools (not a great metric, but alot of people use it) you're looking at 650k+. There is clear demand for that area. Growth will happen in the burbs, which is normal for Houston. But it wont be as dominant as before because it is more expensive to live in the burbs than some of you make it out to be. 

Edited by X.R.
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Houston19514 said:

 

Just to clarify, that it is not exactly what was reported.  It was reported that "10% fewer cars on the roads would mean a 40% reduction in traffic jams.https://www2.deloitte.com/be/en/pages/strategy-operations/articles/future-of-mobility-press-release.html   More important, I don't know where that conclusion came from. I cannot find it anywhere in the actual study.https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/be/Documents/strategy/FOMBrochureFinalVersion.pdf

It's in the press release about the study, but it does not seem to be in the study.

 

thank you, it had been a while since I read that study.

 

anyway, point is, the 7 billion we are planning on spending to build one bigger freeway could be used as tax abatement to companies that provide WFH based on number of staff doing WFH, and days they WFH.

 

rather than reducing traffic for a few years on one highway (and displacing thousands, and maybe reducing pollution), we'd see reduced traffic everywhere, reduced pollution everywhere, and nobody displaced from their communities for as long as they continue to provide the tax incentive.

Edited by samagon

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, samagon said:

 

thank you, it had been a while since I read that study.

 

anyway, point is, the 7 billion we are planning on spending to build one bigger freeway could be used as tax abatement to companies that provide WFH based on number of staff doing WFH, and days they WFH.

 

rather than reducing traffic for a few years on one highway (and displacing thousands, and maybe reducing pollution), we'd see reduced traffic everywhere, reduced pollution everywhere, and nobody displaced from their communities for as long as they continue to provide the tax incentive.

 

That is based on a number of assumptions that are far from evident.  (1) All or any substantial number of businesses can operate efficiently for the long-term with all  or a substantial majority of workers WFH (probably not the case; certainly not the case for a very large number of businesses/employees.)  (2) All or a substantial majority of the reduction in traffic we are seeing is the result of people not going to work (pretty clearly not the case); (3) No further growth.

Edited by Houston19514
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Correct me if im wrong, but doesn't this project also remove multiple back to back billboards along i45? Thats a HUGE plus in my opinion because its literally the most hideous site I've ever laid my eyes on. It's actually embarrassing driving down i45 from the airport with guests visiting Houston, and this is the first thing they see.

rawImage.jpg

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3 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

 

That is based on a number of assumptions that are far from evident.  (1) All or any substantial number of businesses can operate efficiently for the long-term with all  or a substantial majority of workers WFH (probably not the case; certainly not the case for a very large number of businesses/employees.)  (2) All or a substantial majority of the reduction in traffic we are seeing is the result of people not going to work (pretty clearly not the case); (3) No further growth.

 

Certainly part of the reduction in traffic is for people who aren't working from home.  Either they've been laid off or they're not going to school.  Or perhaps they're just not going shopping or to other non-work locations.  That part is somewhat hard to quantify.  i'm sure this period of history is going to get extensive study in the future and maybe we'll eventually find out.  But regardless, that portion of the traffic is certain to return.  What I'm curious about is how this event changes the perception of WFH as a viable option.  I've been working from home for many years now and the biggest block I've seen in the corporate world is from managers who like to physically see their subordinates in their cubicles, regardless of whether the jobs can actually be performed remotely or not.  Time will tell if this will be the tipping point against that type of corporate culture.

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6 hours ago, samagon said:

as I have been venturing out of my home and just driving around in an effort to change the scenery a little bit, I am struck by how absolutely empty freeways are.

 

It frustrates me to no end that our state is not willing to embrace public transportation, but I still want to see that idea happen, and this freeway expansion not happen.

 

as we all sit here working from our homes, rather than traveling into offices, another thought sticks out like the cliche'd elephant in the room.

 

why not spend the money that would go towards this freeway on programs that encourage working from home? I have referenced a study previously in this thread from Belgium that a reduction in 10% of cars results in a 40% reduction in traffic. surely we are seeing an even greater reduction in cars for a 100% reduction in traffic. 

 

the benefits are obvious, lower pollution, fewer accidents, less traffic. 

 

this city could reduce traffic ALL OVER TOWN (not just on this freeway) it could reduce road/highway maintenance costs, it would reduce road closures for projects like this. it would remove the need to remove people from their homes and communities, the cost savings alone is reason to choose this instead of more construction.

 

I have a hunch that even if the government doesn't offer incentives for WFH that a lot of companies that had resisted will probably start to adjust. even if that adjustment is only to allow 3 days WFH, and 2 days in the office, we are going to see a change naturally as a result of this pandemic.

 

You are clearly living in a delusion. Not to mention you are still starting with a conclusion (I don't want this highway built), and looking for data to support your claim. Working remotely is a luxury, a first world luxury in fact. Even during this pandemic its a luxury. I'm sure that a situation like this will prompt businesses to construct better contingencies for such situations, but you are taking something that is not only unprecedented, but also temporary, and projecting it out into the future as if its going to become the new paradigm. There are exceptions to rules, but you are trying to make the exception the rule in itself. A large portion of the economy just can't do this, and even if they could, I'd wager that all this isolation, and social distancing is only going to magnify in peoples minds the importance of human interactions in their day to day life, which will never be replaced by a machine. If its someones personal choice to work from home great, but honestly it sucks. Most people aren't built that way. Most people, work where they have to go to a location outside of there home isn't only healthy, but necessary. I work in a collaborative industry, and there is distance and awkwardness that just doesn't go away when working remotely that actual human interaction solves and will always be better than remote. Finally your making this claim like its some kind of silver bullet quick fix that will solve all ills, but fixing traffic problems is a lot more complicated than that. And while you are sitting at home and able to work, be very happy that you can, most of my friends are working class, and are now immediately out of work due to this. Just remember that.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Luminare said:

 

You are clearly living in a delusion. Not to mention you are still starting with a conclusion (I don't want this highway built), and looking for data to support your claim. Working remotely is a luxury, a first world luxury in fact. Even during this pandemic its a luxury. I'm sure that a situation like this will prompt businesses to construct better contingencies for such situations, but you are taking something that is not only unprecedented, but also temporary, and projecting it out into the future as if its going to become the new paradigm. There are exceptions to rules, but you are trying to make the exception the rule in itself. A large portion of the economy just can't do this, and even if they could, I'd wager that all this isolation, and social distancing is only going to magnify in peoples minds the importance of human interactions in their day to day life, which will never be replaced by a machine. If its someones personal choice to work from home great, but honestly it sucks. Most people aren't built that way. Most people, work where they have to go to a location outside of there home isn't only healthy, but necessary. I work in a collaborative industry, and there is distance and awkwardness that just doesn't go away when working remotely that actual human interaction solves and will always be better than remote. Finally your making this claim like its some kind of silver bullet quick fix that will solve all ills, but fixing traffic problems is a lot more complicated than that. 

 

I'm not starting with a conclusion, I'm starting with a lot of desires.

- the desire to not see communities displaced

- the desire for less pollution

- the desire for overall less traffic

- the desire to not see small businesses displaced

- the desire for kids to not get asthma from living and going to school near freeways

- the desire to not see even more traffic for a decade while this thing gets built

 

these should be desires we ALL have, and maybe I am delusional for wishing we could have this.

 

this is an extra-ordinary crisis we are forced to live through. every change that we have to make as part of it something we should look at and consider. there should be lessons learned in more areas than just how we deal with a pandemic.

 

not every job can be remote, and I'm not suggesting that. to suggest that all the jobs that can be remote were already remote before this event is not even remotely (heehee) accurate. WFH doesn't have to be every day WFH. there is somewhere in the middle of where you assume I am coming from, and where you are positioning to be coming from.

 

there is a lot of fruit on the tree not just for WFH options, the city/state should be looking to encourage ideas like this (and other creative ideas) and honestly, freeway expansion should be what happens after all the other options have been tapped.

 

2 hours ago, Luminare said:

And while you are sitting at home and able to work, be very happy that you can, most of my friends are working class, and are now immediately out of work due to this. Just remember that.

 

as for this, take a breath, you're making assumptions and there's no need to come at me simply because I am writing things you don't agree with on a message board. I am not sure what I wrote that made you feel the need to write that, but I am sorry for doing so.

Edited by samagon

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8 hours ago, Amlaham said:

Correct me if im wrong, but doesn't this project also remove multiple back to back billboards along i45? Thats a HUGE plus in my opinion because its literally the most hideous site I've ever laid my eyes on. It's actually embarrassing driving down i45 from the airport with guests visiting Houston, and this is the first thing they see.

rawImage.jpg

 

Some billboards may get removed.  I recall that there was a push for that some time ago.  Can't recall if that was a city or state initiative or if it resulted in laws/ordinances that apply here now.  However, in the picture above, which I would take as fairly representative, most of the signs are for the businesses at those locations.  I don't think that's going to change much if at all.

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On 3/27/2020 at 1:44 PM, august948 said:

I've been working from home for many years now and the biggest block I've seen in the corporate world is from managers who like to physically see their subordinates in their cubicles, regardless of whether the jobs can actually be performed remotely or not.  Time will tell if this will be the tipping point against that type of corporate culture.

 

In my experience, those kinds of managers almost invariably tend to have other shortcomings as managers. I've likewise worked primarily from home for quite some time, but in the last couple of positions I had where I was going into the office every day, I was fortunate to have superiors for whom where you were physically located while working was far less important than whether you were easily reachable whenever someone needed to speak with you. Of course, this was in an industry where remote working was not only very feasible but also quite common, which is obviously not always the case. 

 

I tend to believe that the "all butts in seats" mandate is largely (but not always) a generational thing which will decrease in importance as younger folks grow into positions of seniority. They are more open to flexible/nontraditional working environments like coworking spaces. 

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On 3/27/2020 at 1:34 PM, Amlaham said:

Correct me if im wrong, but doesn't this project also remove multiple back to back billboards along i45? Thats a HUGE plus in my opinion because its literally the most hideous site I've ever laid my eyes on. It's actually embarrassing driving down i45 from the airport with guests visiting Houston, and this is the first thing they see.

rawImage.jpg

 

As someone who lives elsewhere, that picture made me miss home more than anything I've seen in awhile. Which is not to say it looks good.

 

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46 minutes ago, samagon said:

https://mcusercontent.com/854943398f983daacfe083c2d/files/e171c7c1-452a-446f-8921-48896d054efc/04.13.2020_City_of_Houston_NHHIP_Facilitation_Group.pdf

 

good proposal by the city that has a lot of good consideration for local traffic.

 

now let's see what they can do about the states horrible design for segment 3.

 

I voted for most of the cities proposals. They are at least ways the city can begin a dialogue with TXDOT. At the end of the day a compromise will have to be made. I think the best way to insure that TXDOT gets what they need, and the city gets what it needs is by using the cities version as a base, and then add the 5th lane, but keep the 10ft shoulder. The graph they show of a downward trend is actually a bit misleading. 2008-2012 we were in the middle of the Great Recession. To say that this is an actual downward trend would be like people looking at the highways right now because of COVID and then saying, hey, see, look traffic is on a downward trend! Its a very surface level interpretation of statistics without understand the root causes. This is why I think they should still add the 5th lane, but as a whole, the cities overall version is better and requires less land. According to the graph they provided, traffic has seemed to stablize instead of going up, but we can't assume its going to stay that way, nor should we take data that is more attributed by the Great Recession, and say that it will keep things on a downward trend.

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47 minutes ago, Luminare said:

 

I voted for most of the cities proposals. They are at least ways the city can begin a dialogue with TXDOT. At the end of the day a compromise will have to be made. I think the best way to insure that TXDOT gets what they need, and the city gets what it needs is by using the cities version as a base, and then add the 5th lane, but keep the 10ft shoulder. The graph they show of a downward trend is actually a bit misleading. 2008-2012 we were in the middle of the Great Recession. To say that this is an actual downward trend would be like people looking at the highways right now because of COVID and then saying, hey, see, look traffic is on a downward trend! Its a very surface level interpretation of statistics without understand the root causes. This is why I think they should still add the 5th lane, but as a whole, the cities overall version is better and requires less land. According to the graph they provided, traffic has seemed to stablize instead of going up, but we can't assume its going to stay that way, nor should we take data that is more attributed by the Great Recession, and say that it will keep things on a downward trend.

 

I did the same as far as voting. I certainly want to see the project implemented in a way that the city benefits.

 

there is at least some potential that some of the WFH has an effect on traffic as things get back to 'normal'. but that's just speculation on my part. a lot of the tenets that managers cling to as reasons why WFH won't work are proved wrong. again, that's just my speculation.

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Mayor Turner’s letter to TXDOT can be found below:

 

http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/nhhip/docs_pdfs/Commissioner Ryan - NHHIP - Letter & Technical Appendix.pdf

 

My read is that Segment 3 can proceed essentially as proposed. Segments 1 and 2 are where the bulk of the city’s more significant changes are focused.

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11 hours ago, houstontexasjack said:

Mayor Turner’s letter to TXDOT can be found below:

 

http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/nhhip/docs_pdfs/Commissioner Ryan - NHHIP - Letter & Technical Appendix.pdf

 

My read is that Segment 3 can proceed essentially as proposed. Segments 1 and 2 are where the bulk of the city’s more significant changes are focused.

Thanks for sharing. Under Segment 3, Fourth Ward Gateway:

 

"Reconciling METRO Bus Staging, detention, and Pierce Skypark entry, all proposed in the same location at the south end Downtown Connector ramps."

 

I didn't realize the skypark was still on the table.  BIG fan of having a Highline or 606-type park in our urban core.

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50 minutes ago, CREguy13 said:

Thanks for sharing. Under Segment 3, Fourth Ward Gateway:

 

"Reconciling METRO Bus Staging, detention, and Pierce Skypark entry, all proposed in the same location at the south end Downtown Connector ramps."

 

I didn't realize the skypark was still on the table.  BIG fan of having a Highline or 606-type park in our urban core.

 

Skyparks, the Bagby total redsign, bike lanes, pocket parks...the city is certainly going all out now that these expensive condos and apartments are going up in DT. I am incredibly all for their efforts, its just funny what having people with higher net-worths move into DT has done to the city's efforts to improve the area. 

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An underpass on Runnels, while a flooding risk, would be the best thing to happen to my commute (should it ever happen again) in modern history.

 

A boy can dream of a Navigation/Jensen/Runnels roundabout and a Runnels underpass...

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49 minutes ago, X.R. said:

 

Skyparks, the Bagby total redsign, bike lanes, pocket parks...the city is certainly going all out now that these expensive condos and apartments are going up in DT. I am incredibly all for their efforts, its just funny what having people with higher net-worths move into DT has done to the city's efforts to improve the area. 

 

They were making pretty serious efforts to improve downtown already. All the phases of Buffalo Bayou Park over the years, starting in 1986, usually a $15-20 million city contribution for each phase. Two Market Square redos in twenty years. The Main Street makeover in conjunction with the rail line. The Cotswold Project to beautify the historic district. Discovery Green. The Downtown Living Initiative. More that I'm forgetting.

 

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1 hour ago, JBTX said:

An underpass on Runnels, while a flooding risk, would be the best thing to happen to my commute (should it ever happen again) in modern history.

 

A boy can dream of a Navigation/Jensen/Runnels roundabout and a Runnels underpass...

Is this what the city is proposing? Still at work so I haven't had time to go over the document yet.

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35 minutes ago, Triton said:

Is this what the city is proposing? Still at work so I haven't had time to go over the document yet.

 

The city is requesting an underpass for Runnels, yes.

 

East End Management District had a RFP for a contractor to do a Navigation/Runnel/Jensen round about along with a "public work of art" for the eventual "gateway to the East End." I think there is a thread on it in the East End sub.

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The whole Skypark thing I can take or leave. They could just give the land to development and it would work just as well. As for their proposals, I'm not sure how much TXDOT will consider them. Adding capacity was a major focus of the project. I doubt TXDOT will actually walk away from that. They may scale the project back, but I'm not holding my breath. History has shown that when a freeway project is seen as a pressing need, it will get done in Houston and everyone will ultimately get behind it. The Katy expansion moved forward despite opposition, the Hardy Toll Road happened despite opposition, and this will ultimately do the same. The city will get behind TXDOT in the end and just tell everyone "Well, we tried".

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1 hour ago, Big E said:

The whole Skypark thing I can take or leave. They could just give the land to development and it would work just as well. As for their proposals, I'm not sure how much TXDOT will consider them. Adding capacity was a major focus of the project. I doubt TXDOT will actually walk away from that. They may scale the project back, but I'm not holding my breath. History has shown that when a freeway project is seen as a pressing need, it will get done in Houston and everyone will ultimately get behind it. The Katy expansion moved forward despite opposition, the Hardy Toll Road happened despite opposition, and this will ultimately do the same. The city will get behind TXDOT in the end and just tell everyone "Well, we tried".

 

Did the city actually put forth alternate proposals for the Katy Freeway, and Hardy Toll Road? I don't know of any actual alternate proposals put forth by the city during those times. There might have been opposition, but its not like the city actually did anything to change TXDOT's mind in those instances.

 

What we also need to understand about this project is that what TXDOT initially released was after years of discussion behind closed doors with the city already. Everything from the reroute, to the park deck in EaDo, etc... were all initially part of this project before any opposition, or before any publicity. These two entities have to work together for it to get done. TXDOT can't just simply do what it wants. Most times in only looks like it can because most times TXDOT and the city have historically been in general agreement with what is being done. This time around the city is asking TXDOT to do even more than previous instances. Yes TXDOT does have the final say on matters, but burning bridges doesn't exactly build good future relationships. People think that all our highways were built by some kind of authoritarian TXDOT regime, but that just isn't the case. At every step the city had to sign off on everything that TXDOT has done up until now. They will have to do the same this time.

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1 hour ago, Big E said:

The whole Skypark thing I can take or leave. They could just give the land to development and it would work just as well. As for their proposals, I'm not sure how much TXDOT will consider them. Adding capacity was a major focus of the project. I doubt TXDOT will actually walk away from that. They may scale the project back, but I'm not holding my breath. History has shown that when a freeway project is seen as a pressing need, it will get done in Houston and everyone will ultimately get behind it. The Katy expansion moved forward despite opposition, the Hardy Toll Road happened despite opposition, and this will ultimately do the same. The city will get behind TXDOT in the end and just tell everyone "Well, we tried".

 

You're doing a little cherry-picking of the history.  Did the LaPorte Freeway get built inside the Loop?  Did the original above-grade expansion plan for the inner Southwest Freeway get built?  Did the West Loop get double-decked or expanded into more of Memorial Park as TXDOT once proposed?

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, samagon said:

 

This might be the case, but everything you say assumes that the client, which dictates the direction of the project, would be TXDOT. TXDOT is not the client. The city, state, and the feds are the clients. TXDOT is merely the instrument that designs, engineers, and is used as a financing mechanism to build the highway. Your argument would be like asking a hammer to do a better job at hammering a nail. The hammer is an instrument used to handle nails. Its a tool that is only as good as the wielder. People don't like to think about this, but its the city that requests highways to be built. Its the state which asks highways to be built, and its the feds that ask for highways to be built. TXDOT doesn't make any of these requests. All it can do is design, plan, and engineer what the client wants. What has happened over the years is that people in power haven't asked TXDOT to do anything else except what they have always done. To use the hammer analogy again, its like the city, state, and feds have asked TXDOT to approach every situation as a nail when that isn't always the case, and if something goes wrong they again blame the hammer and ask the hammer to be a better hammer.

 

These people asking TXDOT to "do more" are merely passing the buck and shouldering the blame onto TXDOT for there own failed plans of the past and don't want to take responsibility for their actions. Now could TXDOT have pushed back over the years and come up with more innovative approaches to designing infrastructure, sure. Everything could be better, but if you work in my industry it always starts with the client. Whatever the client wants is what the client gets. We are merely consultants tasked with realizing a vision. If the client doesn't have the vision to do something different then it will be difficult to break the mold and convince them otherwise. We haven't done a good job with asking our clients to be innovative. Instead we keep bashing our heads against the wall asking TXDOT to do everything when they aren't the ones with power. This is how things usually play out:

 

City: We want to rebuild our infrastructure. Lets call TXDOT.

TXDOT: Hi I hear you need new infrastructure. Lets talk.

City: Great. Do you have any recommendations TXDOT?

TXDOT: Glad you ask. Here is what we typically do in these situations. Its fast, its cheaper, and it won't take us too much time to draw up.

City: Perfect. When do we get started TXDOT?

TXDOT: Now!

 

Everything in this situation is passive and is what has been happening for years. Each party is complicit in this because its the path of least resistance. So if the path of least resistance is do what you did before + add a lane of highway, then that is what the city and TXDOT will move forward with.

 

Instead the conversation should look like, and this time around has look more like this:

 

City: We want to rebuild our infrastructure. Lets call TXDOT.

TXDOT: Hi I hear you need new infrastructure. Lets talk.

City: Great. Do you have any recommendations TXDOT?

TXDOT: Glad you ask. Here is what we typically do in these situations. Its fast, its cheaper, and it won't take us too much time to draw up.

City: ...do you have any other ideas? We are thinking about going in another direction. What if we do these things that we haven't done before.

TXDOT: ...Here is what we typically do in these situations. Its fast, its cheaper...

City: ...no no no. We want to do something else now. We want to do these new things. Do you have any recommendations for these?

TXDOT: Well. Not really. We will get back to you on that while we give it a try...

City: When do you think we can get this done.

TXDOT: Well if we did what we initially recommended we can...

City: No we want to do these new things. How long?

TXDOT: Raincheck?

City: Oh we also want this, and this, and this, and this.

State: Don't forget this!

County: Don't forget this!

Community: Don't forget this!

Chron: Don't forget this!

TXDOT: ....omg please slow down. wait!

 

The city, state, and the feds (as well as the county) are the clients. Not the other way around. We are now asking TXDOT to do something nobody else thought to ask them to do until now. Lets cut them some slack. There are so many cooks in this kitchen asking for so many new things TXDOT has never had to deal with in years, I'm sure its a nightmare. Whats worse is that its the clients fault for never asking for more up until now, yet at the same time they blame TXDOT for not doing more. Sounds like an abusive relationship with a crazy girlfriend.

 

 

 

Edited by Luminare
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if you go back and read the article linked from the first page back in 2012 (https://www.chron.com/news/article/Here-s-a-roundabout-way-to-ease-traffic-congestion-3836900.php) you'd find that Houston is not who instigated the project to rebuild i45, the state of Texas is who instigated the project, or at least they are who outlaid the initial investment to come up with ideas to fix the most congested roadways in Texas.

 

the article goes on to state that they worked with HGAC to come up with potential solutions.

 

the removal of the pierce was not shown as one of the ideas, although I'd be shocked if it wasn't discussed.

 

anyway, point is, Texas is the client, Houston is also a client, all those people's letters are from representatives of the clients.

 

when the design cycle can take years (closing in on a decade for this project), the original scope can change from what the client requested initially. the client said at the beginning that they want a specific thing, then the clients customers have shifted their needs, so the client has requested a design change. it certainly isn't going to be free, it will cost more money.

 

imagine if I make potato chips, and by make I mean, I have a huge factory with a potato chip machine.

 

so I go to the potato chip machine company and I give them a spec to make more potato chips.

 

just when they come back with their design for this faster potato chip machine, I find from my marketing department that my customers actually don't want more potato chips. they still want potato chips, but they also want pretzels, and trail mix. 

 

so I go back to my potato chip machine company and end up having to pay a buttload more money to have them design a machine that can make potato chips, pretzels and trail mix all at the same time.

 

luckily, I reviewed the potato chip machine they proposed, and I was able to give them some updated plans on how to build this miracle potato chip machine that can also make pretzels and trail mix. then on top of that, the company board members sent emails to the potato chip machine company endorsing my design.

 

I honestly think we're saying the same thing, you just confused my response with something else maybe?

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The CoH request is just a collection of all the complaints of the project opposition. CoH didn't even think through the consequences or feasibility of their request and the net negative effect it will have on mobility. You will realize just how ridiculous the COH request is when your read this analysis.

https://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-city-of-houstons-problematic.html

 

Major points

1. Removal of the HOV lane has a major negative impact on existing mobility, and eliminates an incentive to carpool/vanpool

2. The BRT with stations in the freeway will duplicate the Red Line North extension, which already has low ridership. This is totally crazy, to build something which will further lower the already low ridership of the Red Line North extension, which will have a cost around $1.4 billion when extended to North Shepherd. Furthermore, CoH did not provide any ridership estimates of the BRT with stations on the section competing with the Red Line.

3. Removal of the managed lanes eliminates the best tool available for providing ridesharing-oriented options to congestion

4. This is a corridor with heavy truck traffic, and COH's request to compromise design standards is the exact opposite of what you want for a truck corridor

5. And the most tragic of all: the lost opportunity to beautify the corridor. By keeping it narrow on the existing right-of-way, the corridor appearance stays the same and there will be virtually no opportunities for landscaping since the corridor will be paved edge-to-edge, like the Northwest freeway is now after the expansion. TxDOT is slated to remove 24 billboards, which will stay in place with the CoH request. This is the first impression of Houston for many visitors to Houston, and it's currently ugly, and it will stay that way forever with the CoH request. With the TxDOT design, there is plenty of space between the main lanes and frontage roads to plant forests of trees, like we have on 610 in Bellaire.

 

Since the CoH design actually does damage to existing mobility on Segments 1 and 2, TxDOT should reject all the absurd CoH requests and continue as plannned. If TxDOT can't proceed as planned, they should withdraw funding for the entire NHHIP because it will have no mobility benefit and actually do harm.

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8 hours ago, Luminare said:

 

Did the city actually put forth alternate proposals for the Katy Freeway, and Hardy Toll Road? I don't know of any actual alternate proposals put forth by the city during those times. There might have been opposition, but its not like the city actually did anything to change TXDOT's mind in those instances.

 

What we also need to understand about this project is that what TXDOT initially released was after years of discussion behind closed doors with the city already. Everything from the reroute, to the park deck in EaDo, etc... were all initially part of this project before any opposition, or before any publicity. These two entities have to work together for it to get done. TXDOT can't just simply do what it wants. Most times in only looks like it can because most times TXDOT and the city have historically been in general agreement with what is being done. This time around the city is asking TXDOT to do even more than previous instances. Yes TXDOT does have the final say on matters, but burning bridges doesn't exactly build good future relationships. People think that all our highways were built by some kind of authoritarian TXDOT regime, but that just isn't the case. At every step the city had to sign off on everything that TXDOT has done up until now. They will have to do the same this time.

 

The city wanted the Katy Expansion (or accepted that it was necessary) and pushed it despite opposition. The design phase was a little long, but that was mainly due to the fact that when they started, TXDOT had not yet bought the old railroad tracks next to the freeway. Once that was taken care of, everything went relatively smoothly. The tracks' removal allowed the expansion of the freeway without building costly elevated structures or as much right of way acquisition, so the city never really pushed for an alternate proposal. All of the Katy's opposition were from private groups, but the city solidly backed the freeway, and the opposition was ultimately defeated. The city never backed the Hardy Toll Road and in fact was hostile to it, which is why the county judge at the time basically single-handedly had to push it through on the county's end. He effectively personally championed the project. There were no alternate proposals because the city simply didn't want it built.

 

8 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

You're doing a little cherry-picking of the history.  Did the LaPorte Freeway get built inside the Loop?  Did the original above-grade expansion plan for the inner Southwest Freeway get built?  Did the West Loop get double-decked or expanded into more of Memorial Park as TXDOT once proposed?

 

The Harrisburg Freeway was not a major priority for TXDOT, nor the city government and took years just to get consideration. Its development was further complicated by the new federal laws at the time that was mandating all kinds of things the older freeways didn't require. What really killed it though was that it came at a time when TXDOT were massively strapped for cash and resources with huge funding shortfalls (which had already delayed the freeway), and had no stomach to push through an "unpopular" freeway given the current situation when the resources just weren't there. The West Loop Expansion ran into unique opposition in the form of the Park Lobby, which is very strong in Houston. The Park People organization in particular, mobilized to kill that plan, with the help of certain friendly city council members who were vocal anti-freeway people. Truth is, nobody who uses Memorial park would have noticed the 3.5 acres that would have been lost to the expansion. However, I think in the case of the West Loop, it was more like everything just seemed to align in that one moment to frustrate that particular plan. The planets sure haven't aligned that way since. Both 290 and the Katy ultimately got widened, barreling over any opposition.

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So I haven't been following this thread at all and jumping in the middle of the convo here, would somebody be willing to sum up where we are here? The only thing I know is that they'll be:

 

-widening it by one lane from the beltway into downtown

-reroute the 45 around the east side of downtown

-bury the freeway near GRB

-add 24/7 express/toll lanes in each direction like the katy freeway

 

Is the gist of it? When is this supposed to break ground? The north freeway clear out to The Woodlands needs about 5 lanes added in each direction. That freeway is a death trap. Way too small for the volume it's trying to carry.

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Posted (edited)

this creates confusion at best, and is misleading at worst.

 

https://mcusercontent.com/854943398f983daacfe083c2d/files/95b95328-dcaf-4b43-85f7-928bfe3a27f9/City_of_Houston_NHHIP_Letter_Technical_Appendix.pdf

 

Quote

 

 

The CoH request is just a collection of all the complaints of the project opposition. CoH didn't even think through the consequences or feasibility of their request and the net negative effect it will have on mobility. You will realize just how ridiculous the COH request is when your read this analysis.

https://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-city-of-houstons-problematic.html

 

Major points

1. Removal of the HOV lane has a major negative impact on existing mobility, and eliminates an incentive to carpool/vanpool

From the letter:

"Current reversible HOV lane is replaced with two-way, dedicated transit lanes."

so yeah, being removed, but it is removed in order to be replaced with a solution that was voted for by people that took the survey.

Quote

2. The BRT with stations in the freeway will duplicate the Red Line North extension, which already has low ridership. This is totally crazy, to build something which will further lower the already low ridership of the Red Line North extension, which will have a cost around $1.4 billion when extended to North Shepherd. Furthermore, CoH did not provide any ridership estimates of the BRT with stations on the section competing with the Red Line.

the BRT line is planned with or without i45:

https://www.ridemetro.org/MetroPDFs/METRONEXT/METRONext-Moving-Forward-Plan.pdf

 

first, the BRT in this corridor looks to be designed as a 'regional' solution. LRT in this corridor is designed for local solution. other than the terminating station downtown, there are no stations proposed closer to the city than the one on Shepherd (unless I'm seeing the document wrong), which is also where they want to eventually extend the red line. a complete transit solution should include both regional and local transit solutions even on the same corridor, they do not work against each other, but work with each other.

 

second, whether it is part of the i45 plan or not, it is designed to be built. so if you have a philosophical issue with Metro plans, then shouldn't that be taken up with Metro?

 

third, if this metro vision is going to happen, why not do both at the same time and save everyone money?

Quote

3. Removal of the managed lanes eliminates the best tool available for providing ridesharing-oriented options to congestion

point number 3 is the same as point number 1, just worded differently.

Quote

4. This is a corridor with heavy truck traffic, and COH's request to compromise design standards is the exact opposite of what you want for a truck corridor

regarding freight:

"All Segments:

TxDOT, H-GAC, and the City should join together to evaluate the best ways to accommodate freight demand throughout the corridor. This should include all available capacity (both road and rail) and management techniques, with the express objective of shifting through-truck volumes away from downtown unless destined for downtown and out of the heaviest rush hour traffic flows."

Quote

5. And the most tragic of all: the lost opportunity to beautify the corridor. By keeping it narrow on the existing right-of-way, the corridor appearance stays the same and there will be virtually no opportunities for landscaping since the corridor will be paved edge-to-edge, like the Northwest freeway is now after the expansion. TxDOT is slated to remove 24 billboards, which will stay in place with the CoH request. This is the first impression of Houston for many visitors to Houston, and it's currently ugly, and it will stay that way forever with the CoH request. With the TxDOT design, there is plenty of space between the main lanes and frontage roads to plant forests of trees, like we have on 610 in Bellaire.

just so I'm following you, we should remove people from their homes and communities so we can plant some trees so the people visiting the city don't have to look at the communities that the freeway is impacting?

Quote

 

Since the CoH design actually does damage to existing mobility on Segments 1 and 2, TxDOT should reject all the absurd CoH requests and continue as plannned. If TxDOT can't proceed as planned, they should withdraw funding for the entire NHHIP because it will have no mobility benefit and actually do harm.

 

 

it's one thing to have a valid reason to be against something, but every point above, it is either confusing, is misleading, or is wrong. the best 2 points you have are the same point, just framed differently. while it's somewhat valid to point out that we will lose HOV access. it is just as valid to point out that Houstonians have chosen mass transit instead of high occupancy vehicles, but at the end of the day, if that's what the people who are going to be using either service want, how is it bad?

 

over 60% of people that took the survey agree with the cities proposal of vision C.

 

whether that means that if TXDOT doesn't include the proposal that the same 60% would fight against the expansion project till it was abandoned all together, or whether it would be seen as a good compromise to those fighting against the project are up in the air, but I'm personally less inclined to hate the idea quite as much if the state takes all of the vision C proposals into their design.

Edited by samagon
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On 5/27/2020 at 11:02 AM, samagon said:

All Segments:

TxDOT, H-GAC, and the City should join together to evaluate the best ways to accommodate freight demand throughout the corridor. This should include all available capacity (both road and rail) and management techniques, with the express objective of shifting through-truck volumes away from downtown unless destined for downtown and out of the heaviest rush hour traffic flows.

 

The thing is: Does the city actually indicate how it intends to shift truck volumes away from downtown? The only option to do that would be to reroute all truck traffic along the Loop, which is already a backed up mess most of the day, especially the west loop. It would also increase travel times to force everyone to go around the city. If the city is planning to prohibit all truck traffic within the Loop or some such thing, it would probably cause more problems than it solves. What would help traffic would be to setup a Local–express lane system for through traffic on 1-45 and direct all through traffic on to it, but that would still require a massive expansion of the freeway right of way. Another option would be to expand the loop to handle the extra traffic load, but that would just move the burden of freeway expansion to another freeway (that and the park lobby would have a field day opposing any expansion of the west loop through Memorial park).

 

On 5/27/2020 at 11:02 AM, samagon said:

just so I'm following you, we should remove people from their homes and communities so we can plant some trees so the people visiting the city don't have to look at the communities that the freeway is impacting?

 

Come on dude. You know that's not what he's saying. From an objective standpoint, the areas along I-45 look terrible, and its not because of the poor neighborhoods it goes through. Its because the massive amount of billboards and low end businesses (plus their signs) that front the freeway. The freeway itself is nothing to write home about, just a slab of concrete, and the area around just contributes to a run down look. Now you may like that Frye's Electronics, but I think Houston can survive without it.

Edited by Big E

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Expanding the East Loop  would help a lot. The Sidney Sherman Ship Channel bridge is pushing 50 years old, it will need replacement soon, why not widen and raise it. 

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On 5/29/2020 at 4:30 PM, Big E said:

The thing is: Does the city actually indicate how it intends to shift truck volumes away from downtown? The only option to do that would be to reroute all truck traffic along the Loop, which is already a backed up mess most of the day, especially the west loop. It would also increase travel times to force everyone to go around the city. If the city is planning to prohibit all truck traffic within the Loop or some such thing, it would probably cause more problems than it solves. What would help traffic would be to setup a Local–express lane system for through traffic on 1-45 and direct all through traffic on to it, but that would still require a massive expansion of the freeway right of way. Another option would be to expand the loop to handle the extra traffic load, but that would just move the burden of freeway expansion to another freeway (that and the park lobby would have a field day opposing any expansion of the west loop through Memorial park).

 

this is true, without knowing their plans, we don't know their plans.

 

On 5/29/2020 at 4:30 PM, Big E said:

Come on dude. You know that's not what he's saying. From an objective standpoint, the areas along I-45 look terrible, and its not because of the poor neighborhoods it goes through. Its because the massive amount of billboards and low end businesses (plus their signs) that front the freeway. The freeway itself is nothing to write home about, just a slab of concrete, and the area around just contributes to a run down look. Now you may like that Frye's Electronics, but I think Houston can survive without it.

 

I'm sorry, but trading even one person's homes for trees is not equitable. just because fry's and billboards would be included doesn't mean that many people's homes are not. 

 

they can build a wall in a very small footprint, and that I'm onboard with.

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