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I-45 Rebuild (North Houston Highway Improvement Project)


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18 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

Because the HGAC members who oppose are appointed by the politicians who oppose the project. You are beholden to the person who appointed you. An HGAC vote is not the same as a public opinion poll.

 

right, but they are either voted into office by public opinion (or at least the opinion of those that can be bothered to vote), or they are appointed by the people who have been voted into office by public opinion (or at least the opinion of those that can be bothered to vote).

if the people felt strongly about Houston/Harris county changes being implemented they would have urged their representatives to vote with Houston/Harris (and we would have seen them do so) against the approval for the project as is.

I mean, this is how democracy works.

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1 hour ago, samagon said:

right, but they are either voted into office by public opinion (or at least the opinion of those that can be bothered to vote), or they are appointed by the people who have been voted into office by public opinion (or at least the opinion of those that can be bothered to vote).

if the people felt strongly about Houston/Harris county changes being implemented they would have urged their representatives to vote with Houston/Harris (and we would have seen them do so) against the approval for the project as is.

I mean, this is how democracy works.

This is a very imperfect way of assessing public opinion. People typically have two choices on a politician to vote for and they may decide based on a totally different reason. When the current slate of city and county politicians was voted on, no one had any idea that they were going to sue to stop a freeway expansion. Most of the county commissioners we ended up with came from straight-ticket voting fueled by ire at Trump and people had no idea that voting Democrat meant that the city's largest road project would be halted as the politicians responded to small, vocal activist groups. One could argue that they *should* have known that given that it happens in cities all over the country, but we have never seen it happen like this in Houston.

I really don't think we have any reliable info on public opinion about this project, other than the historical rule of thumb that freeway expansions are opposed by people living next to the freeways as well as urban planning wonks, and supported by just about everyone else.

 

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More to the point, the HGAC vote was presented not as evidence of public opinion, but as evidence that the purpose of the NHHIP is to make it easier for people in Galveston to get to Conroe.  Of course the HGAC vote provides even less evidence of that premise than it does of public opinion on the project. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, samagon said:

right, but they are either voted into office by public opinion (or at least the opinion of those that can be bothered to vote), or they are appointed by the people who have been voted into office by public opinion (or at least the opinion of those that can be bothered to vote).

if the people felt strongly about Houston/Harris county changes being implemented they would have urged their representatives to vote with Houston/Harris (and we would have seen them do so) against the approval for the project as is.

I mean, this is how democracy works.

Absolute nonsense, but not surprising as none of these arguments have not been made in good faith.  ("I'm against poor people losing their houses!" "I'm against pollution!" "Wait, what they really should do is route it around 610!" "Well what I'm really concerned about is safety."  Yeah right.) The last municipal elections were in 2019, and the NHHIP wasn't even an issue in that election.

As for people mobilizing to support the project, it's only in the past 6 months or so that it became clear that this project is really at risk.  So the people who have mobilized thus far are the ones who have been organized against it from the beginning, i.e., there wasn't anything to "mobilize."  I'm sure the vast majority of people who are tacit supporters aren't aware of what's going on at all.  Any political fallout from this has yet to occur.

Edited by mattyt36
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23 hours ago, mattyt36 said:

Well that's simply fallacious.

How are the Committee members appointed?

Harris County has SUED TxDOT over the project . . . why would anyone appointed by the County vote in support for the resolution?  As the editorial states, Mayor Turner has also made his position clear.  The City has de facto control of the METRO Board, with another 2 of the remaining 4 appointed by the County.  The outcome of the vote shouldn't have surprised anyone . . . or at least anyone who knows how these things work.  (Not to mention it's a toothless resolution . . . )

There is undoubtedly plenty of support within the County and City for this project, and plenty of examples within this post.  They aren't appointed by the Mayor or Commissioner's Court to the HGAC Board, however.

Look at it this way . . . just because Ken Paxton decided to sue GA, PA, WI, and MI because of some wacky partisan plot to undo the 2020 election results doesn't mean that all of Texas supported him.  In fact, even though TX went for Trump, I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of Texans did not support him.  But people in these political positions tend to be a bit more ideological and catering to their perceived base.

Is there anything we can do to publicly support the project and counter this crap?

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1 minute ago, iah77 said:

Is there anything we can do to publicly support the project and counter this crap?

Great question and one I keep asking myself.  Historically for things like this, there has to be an organization advocating for it.  Usually someone like GHP would take that role, but my understanding is the GHP-City relationship is strained as a result of pressure from Mayor Turner over wanting them to take a public stance on the proposed state voting rights bill.  So that may be part of the reason why we haven't heard from them.  Or maybe the GHP isn't enthusiastically for it, either.  I honestly don't know.

Up until Oscar's (deleted) post in which he essentially said the writing is on the wall and the project is going to be canceled, I was just under the impression this extension of comment period was a way to buy time and develop some compromise between the City, County, and State so everyone could emerge and say "We've gone back to the drawing board and are addressing the City's and County's concerns."  That's essentially how these things have worked in the past.  I'm worried that's not going on now.  There's some (I say misguided) municipal political romance about stopping freeway construction, but there is a tremendous difference between clear cutting neighborhoods for the initial 45, 59, 288, etc. and expanding an existing footprint. 

As H-Town Man implied in his rule of thumb above, urban planning wonks seem to just want to wish reality away.  I used to subscribe to most of their mantra as I studied it myself but my mind has changed since I moved back to Houston about 5 years ago.  As much as urbanists want to pretend it's not the case, people live in suburbs (many not as a first choice, mind you!) and need a way of working in the City.  They seem to prefer that they work somewhere else.  I'm not sure how that's a good or desirable outcome.

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18 minutes ago, iah77 said:

Is there anything we can do to publicly support the project and counter this crap?

Write to the County Judge, county commissioners, the Mayor, city council members.  And TxDOT at HOU-piowebmail@txdot.gov

I thought there would be official comment sites available again, perhaps they will be coming soon.

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Posted (edited)

Well I put my money where my mouth was and answered my own question.

"How many residential units will be displaced in total"?

See page 5-2:

Single family residential: 160

Multi-family residential: 433

Public and low-income housing: 486

Total: 1,079 (on page 5-3, of the 1,079 displaced, 76 are owner-occupied units)

Also shown in this table  . . . other displacements:

Business: 344

Place of worship: 5

School: 2

Parking business: 11

Other: 11

The argument that this is about preventing displacement is simply nonsensical.  Yes, I realize it may suck for some (but probably not all!) of the people who live in the 1,079 units to have to move, but to me it is a straw man.

DRAFT_NHHIP_CIA_TR_Public_Comment_Version_2.pdf (ih45northandmore.com)

Edited by mattyt36
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19 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

Well I put my money where my mouth was and answered my own question.

"How many residential units will be displaced in total"?

See page 5-2:

Single family residential: 160

Multi-family residential: 433

Public and low-income housing: 486

Total: 1,079 (on page 5-3, of the 1,079 displaced, 76 are owner-occupied units)

Also shown in this table  . . . other displacements:

Business: 344

Place of worship: 5

School: 2

Parking business: 11

Other: 11

The argument that this is about preventing displacement is simply nonsensical.  Yes, I realize it may suck for some (but probably not all!) of the people who live in the 1,079 units to have to move, but to me it is a straw man.

DRAFT_NHHIP_CIA_TR_Public_Comment_Version_2.pdf (ih45northandmore.com)

I wonder what the turnover of all those residents would have been anyway? Multi-family resident moves, on average, once every 18-24 months? Single-family resident in low-income neighborhood along a freeway moves, on average, once every 3 years? Public and low-income housing resident probably less time?

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Houston19514 said:

More to the point, the HGAC vote was presented not as evidence of public opinion, but as evidence that the purpose of the NHHIP is to make it easier for people in Galveston to get to Conroe.  Of course the HGAC vote provides even less evidence of that premise than it does of public opinion on the project. 

correction: evidence that the HGAC officials that voted yes were more focused on regional mobility than local needs.

I provided proof that the HGAC voted according to reginal and local lines.

so tell me, what proof have you that the regional vote of yes was not cast based on regional mobility at the expense of the local needs?

Galveston to Conroe is a singular example of regional mobility, not the only example. 

Edited by samagon
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, mattyt36 said:

...extension of comment period...

this isn't anyone creating an extension of anything, it's a standard process of comment period. it has been spun by some as a "see we're re-opening the comments here to make sure everyone has a chance to speak!" when the reality is, it is a very regular part of the process, and they aren't doing this as some process of re-opening any closed comment period.

https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/get-involved/unified-transportation-program.html

Quote

TxDOT's 10-year plan, the Unified Transportation Program (UTP) guides the development of projects around Texas (UTP Fact Sheet). Updated annually, TxDOT has been working with its transportation partners to identify projects to be included in the 2022 UTP. Public comments and feedback are very important in developing the plan. The public comment form will be available on this page on Friday, July 9, 2021. As part of the 2022 UTP public involvement, TxDOT will conduct a public meeting and a public hearing.

either way though, there were some above asking how they could be heard, well, starting July 9 (tomorrow), you can be heard. go make your comments about how lovely the NHHIP will be.

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1 hour ago, samagon said:

correction: evidence that the HGAC officials that voted yes were more focused on regional mobility than local needs.

I provided proof that the HGAC voted according to reginal and local lines.

so tell me, what proof have you that the regional vote of yes was not cast based on regional mobility at the expense of the local needs?

Galveston to Conroe is a singular example of regional mobility, not the only example. 

I have to tip my hat to you and your ability to go down new rhetorical rabbit holes without actually engaging with any substantive arguments.

You didn't provide proof of anything.  You reported out a vote count.  There's a perfectly logical explanation for how those people voted, which has been presented to you.  But you want to introduce another straw man (and bring up this Conroe to Galveston straw "king" yet again).

And local versus regional?  Give me a break.  It's just as local to the other board members as it is to the City of Houston and Harris County.   

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1 hour ago, samagon said:

this isn't anyone creating an extension of anything, it's a standard process of comment period. it has been spun by some as a "see we're re-opening the comments here to make sure everyone has a chance to speak!" when the reality is, it is a very regular part of the process, and they aren't doing this as some process of re-opening any closed comment period.

Well, regardless of what "official" comment period it is, it hasn't been linked to the future of the NHHIP until now and that is because of USDOT.  So I'm not sure the glib "nothing to see here" attitude is justified.

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29 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

I have to tip my hat to you and your ability to go down new rhetorical rabbit holes without actually engaging with any substantive arguments.

You didn't provide proof of anything.  You reported out a vote count.  There's a perfectly logical explanation for how those people voted, which has been presented to you.  But you want to introduce another straw man (and bring up this Conroe to Galveston straw "king" yet again).

And local versus regional?  Give me a break.  It's just as local to the other board members as it is to the City of Houston and Harris County.   

Come on man, this HGAC vote is like the 2017 World Series for him. You're not going to take it away. It's going to be cherished forever.

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, samagon said:

correction: evidence that the HGAC officials that voted yes were more focused on regional mobility than local needs.

I provided proof that the HGAC voted according to reginal and local lines.

so tell me, what proof have you that the regional vote of yes was not cast based on regional mobility at the expense of the local needs?

Galveston to Conroe is a singular example of regional mobility, not the only example. 

 "Regional mobility" also includes inner loopers accessing downtown, inner loopers accessing points of the city on the other side of downtown, car-poolers, users of transit services, downtown dwellers (and other inner loopers) accessing suburban jobs, etc, all of whom will benefit from this project, not just suburbanites.

Regional mobility is the mission of the HGAC.  Interesting that the suburban reps are fulfilling the mission while the city and county reps are shirking theirs, focusing instead on more parochial concerns.

Edited by Houston19514
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Posted (edited)

I'm glad this project is dead and wish you all the worst of luck in saving it. Not that I really need to at this point, considering how this comment period seems to be the first move to reallocate funding.

Cities should not bend over backwards to cater to regional traffic - and I say this as a Houston suburbanite. It is especially indefensible to cater to this outdated thinking with a 50+ year investment. The last thing Houston needs to be is saddled with even bigger highways through the 2070s.

Edited by jadebenn
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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 "Regional mobility" also includes inner loopers accessing downtown, inner loopers accessing points of the city on the other side of downtown, car-poolers, users of transit services, downtown dwellers (and other inner loopers) accessing suburban jobs, etc, all of whom will benefit from this project, not just suburbanites.

Regional mobility is the mission of the HGAC.  Interesting that the suburban reps are fulfilling the mission while the city and county reps are shirking theirs, focusing instead on more parochial concerns.

I fully agree, and I'm glad you finally are saying that the HGAC members that voted no represent the people you reference in your first paragraph. 

obviously, you disagree with them though, but they still represent the people you referenced. so maybe when they come up for election (or the people that appointed them come up for election), go vote for the other person.

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15 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 "Regional mobility" also includes inner loopers accessing downtown, inner loopers accessing points of the city on the other side of downtown, car-poolers, users of transit services, downtown dwellers (and other inner loopers) accessing suburban jobs, etc, all of whom will benefit from this project, not just suburbanites.

Regional mobility is the mission of the HGAC.  

Wait, you don't happen to be the TXDOT employee that came up with those claims that if we don't do the NHHIP that it'll take 1.5 hours to drive from Lindale Park to the Med Center, do you? 

Honestly, inner loopers don't need any more regional mobility and we shouldn't be spending billions on increasing mobility for mostly single-occupant private cars just so they can get home a few minutes faster just at peak times. 

Quote

Interesting that the suburban reps are fulfilling the mission while the city and county reps are shirking theirs, focusing instead on more parochial concerns.

Local reps wanting projects that actually benefit them. *pikachu face*

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59 is still being sunk through the Museum District, correct? Is the 59/288 extra-wide section still being rebuilt?

How long until you think TxDOT comes back with another (scaled-back) plan for I-45? I could see it being widened north of 610 but left at its current size inside 610, similar to the Katy Freeway.

 

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9 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

Well I'm going to drive from Conroe to Galveston this weekend.  I must be missing out on something.

Yeah, any traffic if it is like last Saturday morning.

VDFud9x.png

10 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

59 is still being sunk through the Museum District, correct? Is the 59/288 extra-wide section still being rebuilt?

How long until you think TxDOT comes back with another (scaled-back) plan for I-45? I could see it being widened north of 610 but left at its current size inside 610, similar to the Katy Freeway.

 

That is basically what the CoH asked for last summer IIRC, so I could see that being something politically feasible. 

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2 hours ago, wilcal said:

Wait, you don't happen to be the TXDOT employee that came up with those claims that if we don't do the NHHIP that it'll take 1.5 hours to drive from Lindale Park to the Med Center, do you? 

Honestly, inner loopers don't need any more regional mobility and we shouldn't be spending billions on increasing mobility for mostly single-occupant private cars just so they can get home a few minutes faster just at peak times. 

This is exactly the kind of "argument" I was talking about earlier.  The bulk of the added capacity provided by the NHHIP is for transit and HOVs, NOT for single-occupant vehicles.

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2 hours ago, wilcal said:

Wait, you don't happen to be the TXDOT employee that came up with those claims that if we don't do the NHHIP that it'll take 1.5 hours to drive from Lindale Park to the Med Center, do you? 

Honestly, inner loopers don't need any more regional mobility and we shouldn't be spending billions on increasing mobility for mostly single-occupant private cars just so they can get home a few minutes faster just at peak times. 

Local reps wanting projects that actually benefit them. *pikachu face*

Another straw man.  The billions are going to spent somewhere and mostly on highways (that's how the trust fund works).  It can either be here or somewhere else.  

5 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

This is exactly the kind of "argument" I was talking about earlier.  The bulk of the added capacity provided by the NHHIP is for transit and HOVs, NOT for single-occupant vehicles.

Again, I'm not sure what interest those of us who live inside the loop have in making it more difficult for people to get to work in the City.  Any idea that there is going to be a population shift into the City of any meaningful magnitude to affect the natural demand patterns in effect for 40+ years is inane--it's simply not an option for many people.  So, instead, businesses will just move out.  But if that's what people want, I guess it is a "position."

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

Another straw man.  The billions are going to spent somewhere and mostly on highways (that's how the trust fund works).  It can either be here or somewhere else.  

you clearly don't know what a straw man fallacy is, yet you use it as some shield.

when the ironic truth is, all of your responses are straw man fallacy.

https://owl.excelsior.edu/argument-and-critical-thinking/logical-fallacies/logical-fallacies-straw-man/

Quote

A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making.

when you call everything you don't agree with a fallacy, it doesn't make your argument look better. especially when you back it up like this:

Quote

Again, I'm not sure what interest those of us who live inside the loop have in making it more difficult for people to get to work in the City.  Any idea that there is going to be a population shift into the City of any meaningful magnitude to affect the natural demand patterns in effect for 40+ years is inane--it's simply not an option for many people.  So, instead, businesses will just move out.  But if that's what people want, I guess it is a "position."

or this

Quote

 

I have to tip my hat to you and your ability to go down new rhetorical rabbit holes without actually engaging with any substantive arguments.

You didn't provide proof of anything.  You reported out a vote count.  There's a perfectly logical explanation for how those people voted, which has been presented to you.  But you want to introduce another straw man (and bring up this Conroe to Galveston straw "king" yet again).

And local versus regional?  Give me a break.  It's just as local to the other board members as it is to the City of Houston and Harris County.   

 

now, you want to talk about straw man.

feel free to carry on your merry way.

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12 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

This is exactly the kind of "argument" I was talking about earlier.  The bulk of the added capacity provided by the NHHIP is for transit and HOVs, NOT for single-occupant vehicles.

There are serious pollution (including PM2.5) concerns that will be exacerbated by expanding lane widths, increasing frontage lanes/widths and other design choices. No, they aren't going I-10 and just throwing lanes at the problem, but these design decisions also promote reckless speeding outside of peak times which kills a shit load of people. 3,500 road fatalities in Texas per year include speeding as one of the causes. Basically, when you design for speed you are not designing for safety because people will drive as fast as they are comfortable and that kills people. 

1 minute ago, mattyt36 said:

Another straw man.  The billions are going to spent somewhere and mostly on highways (that's how the trust fund works).  It can either be here or somewhere else.  

Yes, I'm aware that Texas voters made it a constitutional requirement to spend this money on highways, but they could be doing it drastically different ways. NHHIP represents more than $1,000 tax dollar per resident in the city of Houston and it is a damn shame we can't use it in a different way.  

Quote

Again, I'm not sure what interest those of us who live inside the loop have in making it more difficult for people to get to work in the City.  Any idea that there is going to be a population shift into the City of any meaningful magnitude to affect the natural demand patterns in effect for 40+ years is inane--

Ahh yes, the "natural" demand patterns of decades of subsidizing suburban commuters who insist on having 3,000 sq ft  McMansions so they can drive their brodozers and SUVs 60+ miles a day and dump pollutants into the very neighborhoods that we paved over so they could enjoy their privilege. Love those smoggy days inside the loop while some Escalade-douche heads back out of town to eat dinner at Chili's in front of some mall. 

Quote

it's simply not an option for many people. 

I'm gonna guess most of the white collar workers commuting to downtown or the med center could afford to live inside the loop, but they just prefer to live in the suburbs because they'd rather have a larger house or different schools. 

Quote

 So, instead, businesses will just move out.  But if that's what people want, I guess it is a "position."

Yes, that is pretty much how Houston is setup. Downtown is the number 1 job center, but it has what, 135,000 jobs in a metro over 7 million? We have lots of job centers all over the Houston area like Uptown, Greenspoint, Energy Corridor, etc. People need to live closer to their jobs so that we can reduce VMTs. 

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Just now, samagon said:

you may have noticed I quit responding to you.

Oh, the irony.

2 minutes ago, samagon said:

you clearly don't know what a straw man fallacy is, yet you use it as some shield.

when the ironic truth is, all of your responses are straw man fallacy.

https://owl.excelsior.edu/argument-and-critical-thinking/logical-fallacies/logical-fallacies-straw-man/

when you call everything you don't agree with a fallacy, it doesn't make your argument look better.

now, you want to talk about straw man, expertly done.

feel free to carry on your merry way.

At its heart, a "straw man" is not a real argument, but something just put on the table because it relies on people's "gut feel" that it is true, good, or bad. 

(1) "I'm opposed to this because of the pollution."  (Who is for pollution?)  (2) "I'm opposed to this because of all the relocated poor people."  ("These days, who can possibly be against poor people?") (3) "I'm opposed to this because I don't think we should make it easier for people to get from Conroe to Galveston."  ("Yeah, why should we care about these people?")  (4) "I'm opposed to this because an HGAC vote showed there is no local support."  ("Well, if the board voted against it, it must be bad."

That's the substance of your arguments against the project.

(1), (2) you have proven in your own words you don't really care.

(3) given plenty of opportunities for you to school us on how this is what the project is really addressing, you've supplied nothing.

(4) cherry-picking at best, willful ignorance at worst.

In none of your responses have you provided any semblance of a logical counterargument, just appealing to the same tropes.  Therefore you can go with the Oxford definition of a "straw man," i.e., an argument having no substance or integrity.

10 minutes ago, samagon said:

now, you want to talk about straw man, expertly done.

What, specifically, about the premise (i.e., "people need a way to work and that if the "cost" increases in terms of additional time it may affect business location decisions") do you not agree with?

Maybe you don't care or don't think it's worthy of consideration.

That's fine, just say so.  

At the end of the day, I suspect that's why you have "quit responding" (while still, in fact, responding).

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9 minutes ago, wilcal said:

Yes, I'm aware that Texas voters made it a constitutional requirement to spend this money on highways, but they could be doing it drastically different ways. NHHIP represents more than $1,000 tax dollar per resident in the city of Houston and it is a damn shame we can't use it in a different way.  

Congrats on calculating a ratio.  That's not how this works.  Fill up your tank, pay into the trust fund.  From an economic perspective, we'll continue to pay this gas tax without regard to whether the project proceeds.  The real difference is what we get . . . it all may end up going to North Texas or Austin.

7 minutes ago, wilcal said:

Ahh yes, the "natural" demand patterns of decades of subsidizing suburban commuters who insist on having 3,000 sq ft  McMansions so they can drive their brodozers and SUVs 60+ miles a day and dump pollutants into the very neighborhoods that we paved over so they could enjoy their privilege. Love those smoggy days inside the loop while some Escalade-douche heads back out of town to eat dinner at Chili's in front of some mall. 

Well that's a revealing value judgment!

No different than any other city.  Anyone who thinks Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, DC, etc., doesn't have similar patterns is blind.  Fun fact: The NYC subway drove sprawl, just like it did in London and countless other places!!!!!

In any case, it's "natural" simply because it is now endemic to the system.  It certainly wasn't 70 years ago.  How do you seriously think this "stick-it-to-the-suburbs" attitude will work out positively in the end?  There's the implication that there will be some sort of population rebalancing (and we're talking hundreds of thousands of people doing this voluntarily and happily . . . you know, "the market" at work . . .) if this project does not proceed.  Please provide an example of that ever happening in a non-centrally planned economy.  You can't make up for poor planning (that was accepted as the "standard" at the time) 70 years ago. 

21 minutes ago, wilcal said:

I'm gonna guess most of the white collar workers commuting to downtown or the med center could afford to live inside the loop, but they just prefer to live in the suburbs because they'd rather have a larger house or different schools. 

"Guesses" are always good.  And preferring to live in suburbs because of different schools is a pretty big thing, no?  Maybe not for you, but I "guess" that the question of having kids and living in the City is way more significant and a bit more complex than you have characterized it here.

23 minutes ago, wilcal said:

Yes, that is pretty much how Houston is setup. Downtown is the number 1 job center, but it has what, 135,000 jobs in a metro over 7 million? We have lots of job centers all over the Houston area like Uptown, Greenspoint, Energy Corridor, etc. People need to live closer to their jobs so that we can reduce VMTs. 

"I hereby deem that people live closer to their jobs because that's what I want them to do."  Maybe we can get HGAC to vote on that.

At its heart, this is why everyone's new urbanist dream will never work in a market economy.  It is an illusion.

24 minutes ago, wilcal said:

Greenspoint

You mean CityNorth?  (Or is it City Center?  Or City Place . . . )

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25 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

Congrats on calculating a ratio.  That's not how this works.  Fill up your tank, pay into the trust fund.  From an economic perspective, we'll continue to pay this gas tax without regard to whether the project proceeds.  The real difference is what we get . . . it all may end up going to North Texas or Austin.

Unfortunately, that's now how this works. Gas tax and car registrations combined represent less than 20% of TXDOT's budget. I believe almost half is from the federal government (aka income tax).

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Well that's a revealing value judgment!

No different than any other city.  Anyone who thinks Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, DC, etc., doesn't have similar patterns is blind.  Fun fact: The NYC subway drove sprawl, just like it did in London and countless other places!!!!!

I'm not against sprawl specifically. I'm against pollution and that comes from VMTs. Sprawl does contribute significantly to VMTs if it isn't controlled. 

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In any case, it's "natural" simply because it is now endemic to the system.  It certainly wasn't 70 years ago.  How do you seriously think this "stick-it-to-the-suburbs" attitude will work out positively in the end?  There's the implication that there will be some sort of population rebalancing (and we're talking hundreds of thousands of people doing this voluntarily and happily . . . you know, "the market" at work . . .) if this project does not proceed.  Please provide an example of that ever happening in a non-centrally planned economy.  You can't make up for poor planning (that was accepted as the "standard" at the time) 70 years ago. 

The system is broken. It doesn't matter if it is an endemic characteristic. Climate change is happening and building urban highway expansions is not going to help that. It is like solving obesity with a bigger belt. I don't really care if the residents do it voluntarily and happily to be honest. If they paid for their fair share of the environmental impact or paying for the highways then I would be more ok with it, but they don't. It isn't their kids that get asthma from pollution of long-distance commuters, it is the people that live near the freeways. 

It is not about "sticking it to the suburbs" as much as it is about the suburbs not sticking it to us.

I would argue that the urbanization (and as a result suburbanization) of America (and to the world also) is an example of the large population rebalancing that you are talking about. We've gone from 70% urban in the 60s to 73% today. The more rural citizens are not able to continue their way of life as it was and are now making a choice to have a more convenient Chili's. 

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"Guesses" are always good.  And preferring to live in suburbs because of different schools is a pretty big thing, no?  Maybe not for you, but I "guess" that the question of having kids and living in the City is way more significant and a bit more complex than you have characterized it here.

Eh, not really. Seems pretty cut and dry. White flight is a pretty well-documented topic. 

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"I hereby deem that people live closer to their jobs because that's what I want them to do."  Maybe we can get HGAC to vote on that.

At its heart, this is why everyone's new urbanist dream will never work in a market economy.  It is an illusion.

Hey, that's why I'm for a carbon tax and making suburbanites/long-distance commuters pay for their fair share. In a market economy the only solution is to remove the subsidy.  Low density residential developments can cost a lot more for a city to provide services to.  There's a reason why pickup truck sales take a nose dive when gas hits $3.50/gallon. Housing choices will be affected the same way. 

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You mean CityNorth?  (Or is it City Center?  Or City Place . . . )

😂 I had forgotten that they are trying to change their name. It is "North Houston District" now. If I was king, making CityCentre change their name would be an easy decree.

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Thanks for the argument in good faith!

10 minutes ago, wilcal said:

Unfortunately, that's now how this works. Gas tax and car registrations combined represent less than 20% of TXDOT's budget. I believe almost half is from the federal government (aka income tax).

I'm not against sprawl specifically. I'm against pollution and that comes from VMTs. Sprawl does contribute significantly to VMTs if it isn't controlled. 

Isn't the federal share from the federal gas tax?  Doesn't FHWA have a trust fund too?

Regardless, the general point stands, though.  This does not represent $1,000 in real additional tax outlays per Houston resident (under the existing system, at least, which I acknowledge you believe is broken).

12 minutes ago, wilcal said:

The system is broken. It doesn't matter if it is an endemic characteristic. Climate change is happening and building urban highway expansions is not going to help that. It is like solving obesity with a bigger belt. I don't really care if the residents do it voluntarily and happily to be honest. If they paid for their fair share of the environmental impact or paying for the highways then I would be more ok with it, but they don't. It isn't their kids that get asthma from pollution of long-distance commuters, it is the people that live near the freeways. 

It is not about "sticking it to the suburbs" as much as it is about the suburbs not sticking it to us.

Fair enough.  But if one really thinks about what this idea means politically, well, I don't think it's practical (this is why I think of much of this being an illusion).  It is a defensible viewpoint, however.  Appreciate the transparency.

26 minutes ago, wilcal said:

I would argue that the urbanization (and as a result suburbanization) of America (and to the world also) is an example of the large population rebalancing that you are talking about. We've gone from 70% urban in the 60s to 73% today. The more rural citizens are not able to continue their way of life as it was and are now making a choice to have a more convenient Chili's. 

Are you saying, "Make America Great Again?" 🤣

16 minutes ago, wilcal said:

Eh, not really. Seems pretty cut and dry. White flight is a pretty well-documented topic. 

I don't see why it's so difficult to understand that plenty of people would choose to live in the suburbs because they don't want to live in my neighborhood (Fourth Ward), for example, with two kids in a house half the size at best, have those kids attend a school that is perennially on some state watch list for academic performance, and pay higher taxes.  You can describe that as "white flight" because that's indeed how it began, but I don't think the attitudes with Generation X and above is as racially motivated as it originally was.  But, again, understood you believe the problem is the system.  Entirely defensible.  Doesn't have to be that way, but in terms of practicality, it'll take a long time to unwind with plenty of unforeseen (or completely foreseen!) effects.

24 minutes ago, wilcal said:

Hey, that's why I'm for a carbon tax and making suburbanites/long-distance commuters pay for their fair share. In a market economy the only solution is to remove the subsidy.  Low density residential developments can cost a lot more for a city to provide services to.  There's a reason why pickup truck sales take a nose dive when gas hits $3.50/gallon. Housing choices will be affected the same way. 

Well as far as I'm concerned the direct cost of living in the suburbs is not even fully appreciated by the average resident, nevermind the indirect ones.

I'd again hold that your plan is not workable, given the propensity of suburbanites to vote.  

Honestly, it just reinforces my belief that these solutions are illusory as they presuppose individuals not voting in their own short-term interests (or not voting at all, really).  

We're going to have to wait awhile for the inevitable costs to become high enough that peoples' short term interests change . . . and unfortunately, it's been proven time and time again throughout history that humans have to be pushed to the brink until they can no longer wish the risks away.

33 minutes ago, wilcal said:

 

😂 I had forgotten that they are trying to change their name. It is "North Houston District" now. If I was king, making CityCentre change their name would be an easy decree.

Now, it's all coming together, must be derived from "North Houston Highway Improvement Program District."

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't understand this all or nothing approach TxDOT has. Are they really that allergic to the idea of working with local leaders and residents impacted by the project, even if it sets them back a year or two?

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On 7/30/2021 at 8:12 PM, Some one said:

I don't understand this all or nothing approach TxDOT has. Are they really that allergic to the idea of working with local leaders and residents impacted by the project, even if it sets them back a year or two?

Because they've already been doing that...for years. This project is already well underway and tens of millions of dollars in. As I've said before, this project has been through a years long design process, multiple public input sessions, design changes, and planning, and it isn't going to go through remarkable changes this late in the game and everyone involved knows that, including the people suing to stop the project. This isn't something that sprung on everyone last month. Its the politicians that are opposing this that are the Johnny-come-latelys to the project.

 

On 7/29/2021 at 10:54 PM, j_cuevas713 said:

hat was an easy survey for me. I’m personally not in favor of the proposal. I think TxDOT needs to use those brilliant minds and design some commuter rail with all those billions. 

Commuter rail is not their specialization and never has been. You want that, take it up with METRO. Hell, this project is supposed to make right of way for mass transit, so if that's what you want then you should support the project.

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13 hours ago, Big E said:

Because they've already been doing that...for years. This project is already well underway and tens of millions of dollars in. As I've said before, this project has been through a years long design process, multiple public input sessions, design changes, and planning, and it isn't going to go through remarkable changes this late in the game and everyone involved knows that, including the people suing to stop the project. This isn't something that sprung on everyone last month. Its the politicians that are opposing this that are the Johnny-come-latelys to the project.

 

Commuter rail is not their specialization and never has been. You want that, take it up with METRO. Hell, this project is supposed to make right of way for mass transit, so if that's what you want then you should support the project.

The problem is it isn’t Metro’s job. You just said TxDOT doesn’t specialize in commuter rail. So what they hell do they specialize in other than concrete? They are a TRANSIT AGENCY. The bigger issue is they are forced to use their money on concrete. I believe it’s the TX Constitution that specifies how they can use their funds. SEPTA in Pennsylvania works to develop multiple modes of transit that connect to inner city transit. The same applies to transit in California, specifically BART in northern Cali. So no, the whole “they don’t specialize” argument is even worse. All those engineers who don’t specialize in anything but highways. TxDOT had a chance to build commuter rail with the Katy Freeway expansion. They failed to do that. What makes you believe this expansion is any different?

Edited by j_cuevas713
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6 hours ago, j_cuevas713 said:

The problem is it isn’t Metro’s job. You just said TxDOT doesn’t specialize in commuter rail. So what they hell do they specialize in other than concrete? They are a TRANSIT AGENCY. The bigger issue is they are forced to use their money on concrete. I believe it’s the TX Constitution that specifies how they can use their funds. SEPTA in Pennsylvania works to develop multiple modes of transit that connect to inner city transit. The same applies to transit in California, specifically BART in northern Cali. So no, the whole “they don’t specialize” argument is even worse. All those engineers who don’t specialize in anything but highways. TxDOT had a chance to build commuter rail with the Katy Freeway expansion. They failed to do that. What makes you believe this expansion is any different?

I’ll back this up by saying that their name says Transportation in it. 
 

seems like they only consider freeways transit. They’re clueless

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2 hours ago, pablog said:

seems like they only consider freeways transit. They’re clueless

You're kinder than I. 
TXDOT is controlled by the Texas Transportation Commission, the chair of which is appointed by (drum roll....) the Governor. 
My impression is that they're part of the Good Old Boys network that oversees 'bidness' whenever there's money (especially tax money) to be spent. I also suspect that their loyalties lie more with big donors than the schmucks who are forced to live with their decisions.

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10 hours ago, j_cuevas713 said:

The problem is it isn’t Metro’s job. You just said TxDOT doesn’t specialize in commuter rail. So what they hell do they specialize in other than concrete? They are a TRANSIT AGENCY. The bigger issue is they are forced to use their money on concrete. I believe it’s the TX Constitution that specifies how they can use their funds. SEPTA in Pennsylvania works to develop multiple modes of transit that connect to inner city transit. The same applies to transit in California, specifically BART in northern Cali. So no, the whole “they don’t specialize” argument is even worse. All those engineers who don’t specialize in anything but highways. TxDOT had a chance to build commuter rail with the Katy Freeway expansion. They failed to do that. What makes you believe this expansion is any different?

TXDOT has always specialized in road development. Taking care of the major interstates and roads has been their main concern since forever. Freight rail in Texas is privately owned, and commuter rail networks in Texas are generally built and maintained by local transit authorities agencies. TEXRail, for instance, is maintained by Trinity Metro, a local transit agency in Tarrant County. The Trinity Railway Express is a joint venture between Trinity Metro and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). The Silver Line, which is currently under construction, is being built by DART. The A-train is operated by the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA). Austin's Capital MetroRail is maintained by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority. TXDOT has literally never built or managed a commuter rail network. If you want such a network to exist in the Houston Area, take it up with METRO. Constructing or running such things would literally be within their purview. They have decided to not make that a priority.

Edited by Big E
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6 hours ago, Big E said:

TXDOT has always specialized in road development. Taking care of the major interstates and roads has been their main concern since forever. Freight rail in Texas is privately owned, and commuter rail networks in Texas are generally built and maintained by local transit authorities agencies. TEXRail, for instance, is maintained by Trinity Metro, a local transit agency in Tarrant County. The Trinity Railway Express is a joint venture between Trinity Metro and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). The Silver Line, which is currently under construction, is being built by DART. The A-train is operated by the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA). Austin's Capital MetroRail is maintained by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority. TXDOT has literally never built or managed a commuter rail network. If you want such a network to exist in the Houston Area, take it up with METRO. Constructing or running such things would literally be within their purview. They have decided to not make that a priority.

You’ve explained this twice. We understand the governing entities of each type of development and how they work; however, it doesn’t mean it is right. TXDOT should be able to fund other developments that help transportation across the state if that’s what the local communities want, but that’s assuming we live in a democracy.

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8 hours ago, Big E said:

TXDOT has always specialized in road development. Taking care of the major interstates and roads has been their main concern since forever. Freight rail in Texas is privately owned, and commuter rail networks in Texas are generally built and maintained by local transit authorities agencies. TEXRail, for instance, is maintained by Trinity Metro, a local transit agency in Tarrant County. The Trinity Railway Express is a joint venture between Trinity Metro and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). The Silver Line, which is currently under construction, is being built by DART. The A-train is operated by the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA). Austin's Capital MetroRail is maintained by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority. TXDOT has literally never built or managed a commuter rail network. If you want such a network to exist in the Houston Area, take it up with METRO. Constructing or running such things would literally be within their purview. They have decided to not make that a priority.

The reason the building and operation of commuter rail services has been relegated to smaller agencies is that TXDOT is simply not doing its job.
In addition to highways, TXDOT is responsible for overseeing aviation, rail, and public transportation systems within the state. The fact that regional rail authorities have had to take up the slack in no way abrogates TXDOT of its duties. 
 

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the problem here is the name.

TXDoT means, Texas Department of Transportation.

the problem with this name is that transportation is not one of their core deliverable, and they even state that on their website:

https://www.txdot.gov/jobs/life-at-txdot/what-we-do.html

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Headquartered in Austin, Texas, TxDOT is governed by the five-member Texas Transportation Commission and an Executive Director. TxDOT’s Administration oversees the organization, which comprises 25 districts and many divisions. The geographical districts plan, design, build, operate and maintain our state highways.

so really, in a bid to be less confusing, they should change their name to TXDoH, or Texas Department of Highways.

the reality is, the bread of this state is pretty well buttered by O&G, it is in the best interests of O&G to see more and bigger highways projects to support more vehicles and higher vehicle miles driven, so they lobby for this to be the focus regardless of who is in power.

it will probably take a federal mandate that says something like "x% of funds released to state transportation departments must be used for projects alternative to highways" before there is anything done at our state level to promote anything alternatives to highways.

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2 hours ago, samagon said:

the problem here is the name.

TXDoT means, Texas Department of Transportation.

the problem with this name is that transportation is not one of their core deliverable, and they even state that on their website:

https://www.txdot.gov/jobs/life-at-txdot/what-we-do.html

so really, in a bid to be less confusing, they should change their name to TXDoH, or Texas Department of Highways.

the reality is, the bread of this state is pretty well buttered by O&G, it is in the best interests of O&G to see more and bigger highways projects to support more vehicles and higher vehicle miles driven, so they lobby for this to be the focus regardless of who is in power.

it will probably take a federal mandate that says something like "x% of funds released to state transportation departments must be used for projects alternative to highways" before there is anything done at our state level to promote anything alternatives to highways.

It used to be called the Texas Highway Department and was changed to Texas Department of Transportation sometime in the 80's, IIRC. Was a publicity move.

 

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2 hours ago, samagon said:

the problem here is the name.

TXDoT means, Texas Department of Transportation.

the problem with this name is that transportation is not one of their core deliverable, and they even state that on their website:

https://www.txdot.gov/jobs/life-at-txdot/what-we-do.html

so really, in a bid to be less confusing, they should change their name to TXDoH, or Texas Department of Highways.

the reality is, the bread of this state is pretty well buttered by O&G, it is in the best interests of O&G to see more and bigger highways projects to support more vehicles and higher vehicle miles driven, so they lobby for this to be the focus regardless of who is in power.

it will probably take a federal mandate that says something like "x% of funds released to state transportation departments must be used for projects alternative to highways" before there is anything done at our state level to promote anything alternatives to highways.

The T in TxDoT stands for Tollways.

Edited by Some one
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45 minutes ago, ADCS said:

Less about O&G these days than the auto dealers who have a very big presence in Austin

it's also the counties, and communities on the edges look at how i10 has impacted Katy (and other developments along the i10 corridor), they look at what 288 tollway is doing for development along that corridor. they look at the grand parkway.

they want some of that sweet action in their areas too.

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12 hours ago, dbigtex56 said:

The reason the building and operation of commuter rail services has been relegated to smaller agencies is that TXDOT is simply not doing its job.
In addition to highways, TXDOT is responsible for overseeing aviation, rail, and public transportation systems within the state. The fact that regional rail authorities have had to take up the slack in no way abrogates TXDOT of its duties. 
 

 

15 hours ago, pablog said:

You’ve explained this twice. We understand the governing entities of each type of development and how they work; however, it doesn’t mean it is right. TXDOT should be able to fund other developments that help transportation across the state if that’s what the local communities want, but that’s assuming we live in a democracy.

 

As @samagon said, their actual stated mission is freeway and road development, and, as @H-Town Man man said, they used to be called the Texas Highway Department. The only reason they are called the department of transportation now is because the Texas Mass Transportation Commission, Department of Aviation, and the Texas Motor Vehicle Commission were combined into it. They do "oversee" aviation, rail, and public transportation, but that's all they do: oversee. They are the jacka-s that looks over all the other jacka-ses to tell them what they are doing wrong. They don't build airports, cities and airport authorities do (Houston's airports are owned, operated, and built by the city itself, not the state). They don't build public transport, transit authorities or cities do. They don't build rail, private companies and transit authorities do. And honestly, that's probably for the best. Its better that local authorities handle these things because they will better understand the needs of the region. Hell, judging by how much you guys hate the job TxDOT is doing with this project, do you really want them handling rail too?

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On 8/2/2021 at 11:08 PM, Big E said:

 

 

As @samagon said, their actual stated mission is freeway and road development, and, as @H-Town Man man said, they used to be called the Texas Highway Department. The only reason they are called the department of transportation now is because the Texas Mass Transportation Commission, Department of Aviation, and the Texas Motor Vehicle Commission were combined into it. They do "oversee" aviation, rail, and public transportation, but that's all they do: oversee. They are the jacka-s that looks over all the other jacka-ses to tell them what they are doing wrong. They don't build airports, cities and airport authorities do (Houston's airports are owned, operated, and built by the city itself, not the state). They don't build public transport, transit authorities or cities do. They don't build rail, private companies and transit authorities do. And honestly, that's probably for the best. Its better that local authorities handle these things because they will better understand the needs of the region. Hell, judging by how much you guys hate the job TxDOT is doing with this project, do you really want them handling rail too?

I mean TxDOT already does a bunch of tests and surveys over the course of a project along with community input, etc. They're def smart enough to find a much less intrusive route for a single commuter line. I see where the project would free up tons of land and connect downtown and midtown. A cap park would be great and that would merge Eado in with downtown. BUT I still don't believe it outweighs the cost on businesses, homes, religious buildings, etc. I always heard growing up that the Pierce Elevated was a mistake that needed to be fixed. But at this point in the city's growth and development, I think rebuilding comes with even more risk. 

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