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I-45 Rebuild (North Houston Highway Improvement Project)


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the definition from most sources on the internet of vaporware is...

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software or hardware that has been advertised but is not yet available to buy, either because it is only a concept or because it is still being written or designed.

you may personally have a different connotative definition of the word, but the denotative (and I would challenge, the most common connotative definition) definition is exactly what this is.

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9 minutes ago, samagon said:

the definition from most sources on the internet of vaporware is...

you may personally have a different connotative definition of the word, but the denotative (and I would challenge, the most common connotative definition) definition is exactly what this is.

Fair. To me that definition is too broad even if its the accepted definition. Its basically the most cynical way to portray a proposed idea or concept without giving it a chance. Lets be real, that definition is not ever used to look at anything favorably, but is instead applied when one is skeptical or even cynical of what is being proposed (which is how that definition came to be in the first place). By the way, not saying one shouldn't be cynical/skeptical.

Now are there people that are immediately buying this cap park idea and think its going to happen because they like the pretty pictures and it goes with their bias how this project is going to be all good with no downside...yeah probably, but the same can be said for the other side who cynically and immediately think this is all downside with little to no upside. Right now its an idea. Its a proposal. If you want to say vaporware, then okay. I don't agree obviously. I think it would be better to use more neutral terms. That's just me though.

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it's true that a lot of vaporware doesn't happen, but a lot of it does happen.

calling it vaporware doesn't mean I don't think it won't happen, it means exactly what it means, that the project is by no means a guarantee. and even if it does happen, it might be a much longer timescale than anyone ever imagined. if that makes me a skeptic and cynic, so be it, I guess.

anyway, I hope that if the various levels of government can agree on the outcome of the NHHIP that all of the potential cap parks are approved, paid for and completed as soon as possible once TXDoT gives the greenlight for them to start construction of said cap parks.

Edited by samagon
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1 hour ago, samagon said:

it's true that a lot of vaporware doesn't happen, but a lot of it does happen.

calling it vaporware doesn't mean I don't think it won't happen, it means exactly what it means, that the project is by no means a guarantee. and even if it does happen, it might be a much longer timescale than anyone ever imagined. if that makes me a skeptic and cynic, so be it, I guess.

anyway, I hope that if the various levels of government can agree on the outcome of the NHHIP that all of the potential cap parks are approved, paid for and completed as soon as possible once TXDoT gives the greenlight for them to start construction of said cap parks.

If there is anything I'm skeptical about its the timeline. This will more likely than not take longer than forecasted. If the Big Dig in Boston is any indication. More important than anything I just want them to get start, so people whos lives will be effected can get a jump start on making plans with how to adjust themselves to the situation. Indecisiveness from any government or institution, I think we can both agree, will only hurt regular people. They really do need to get a move on with this. These institutions only have a finite amount of political will and time to get this going.

Edited by Luminare
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On 2/10/2022 at 2:25 PM, Luminare said:

These institutions only have a finite amount of political will and time to get this going.

Which is precisely why those who are acting against the project are trying to do it now. They want to syphon what political will there is behind this project in order to stop it. It will only hurt Houston in the long run, as the money earmarked will get spent elsewhere.

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On 2/10/2022 at 2:25 PM, Luminare said:

This will more likely than not take longer than forecasted. If the Big Dig in Boston is any indication. 

Boston's Big Dig is what this project reminds me of. It looks expensive. It looks like a decade-long project. And it looks incredibly disruptive.

Which is why I'm generally opposed to this project. Honestly, in a city that is susceptible to flooding, I don't know that it's worth the effort, time, or expense to bury the freeway. And, as planned, the freeway would certainly flood without continuous pumping.

I'd be a lot more favorable if they kept things elevated. Not just to add resiliency, but also to reduce the cost and time of construction.

Edited by aachor
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2 hours ago, aachor said:

Boston's Big Dig is what this project reminds me of. It looks expensive. It looks like a decade-long project. And it looks incredibly disruptive.

Which is why I'm generally opposed to this project. Honestly, in a city that is susceptible to flooding, I don't know that it's worth the effort, time, or expense to bury the freeway. And, as planned, the freeway would certainly flood without continuous pumping.

I'd be a lot more favorable if they kept things elevated. Not just to add resiliency, but also to reduce the cost and time of construction.

“Generally opposed” and “a lot more favorable” and “resiliency” mixed in with “long construction time” and then bring in “continuous pumping” to boot! Pick the tiles without buzzwords to prove you’re not a robot.

Meanwhile, half the people on the forum will love, without realizing that post suggests doubling the current size of the elevated freeway.

Seems pretty (suspiciously) specific.

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6 hours ago, mattyt36 said:

Meanwhile, half the people on the forum will love, without realizing that post suggests doubling the current size of the elevated freeway.

Either you double the size of the elevated portion, or you double it and then place it in a moat. I don't get your point.

Also, I'm reminded of 288 between McGregor and 610 during T.S. Beta. It went totally underwater while most of the other freeways were just fine. I still got to work okay, but it caused a headache for many people. It didn't flood because the bayou overflowed. The bayou was fine- I drove over it. 288 flooded because it's a ditch.

I don't see anything wrong with elevated freeways except that they don't have park caps which no one is going to pay for.

Edited by aachor
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3 hours ago, aachor said:

Either you double the size of the elevated portion, or you double it and then place it in a moat. I don't get your point.

Also, I'm reminded of 288 between McGregor and 610 during T.S. Beta. It went totally underwater while most of the other freeways were just fine. I still got to work okay, but it caused a headache for many people. It didn't flood because the bayou overflowed. The bayou was fine- I drove over it. 288 flooded because it's a ditch.

I don't see anything wrong with elevated freeways except that they don't have park caps which no one is going to pay for.

All that water wasn't in your neighborhood. Freeways that flood during major events are a good thing - that's retention capacity that would instead be impervious cover with an at-grade or elevated structure.

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17 hours ago, aachor said:

Boston's Big Dig is what this project reminds me of. It looks expensive. It looks like a decade-long project. And it looks incredibly disruptive.

Which is why I'm generally opposed to this project. Honestly, in a city that is susceptible to flooding, I don't know that it's worth the effort, time, or expense to bury the freeway. And, as planned, the freeway would certainly flood without continuous pumping.

I'd be a lot more favorable if they kept things elevated. Not just to add resiliency, but also to reduce the cost and time of construction.

 

8 hours ago, aachor said:

Either you double the size of the elevated portion, or you double it and then place it in a moat. I don't get your point.

Also, I'm reminded of 288 between McGregor and 610 during T.S. Beta. It went totally underwater while most of the other freeways were just fine. I still got to work okay, but it caused a headache for many people. It didn't flood because the bayou overflowed. The bayou was fine- I drove over it. 288 flooded because it's a ditch.

I don't see anything wrong with elevated freeways except that they don't have park caps which no one is going to pay for.

I totally get where you are coming. This is actually, among those who oppose, its the most sensible logical approach, and its something which can be objectively looked at. Will it be more costly, yes. Will it be underground and potentially flood, yes. Will it be disruptive for a number of years, yes. I also get your position because its honest. You have no problem stating how it will effect you personally, and your issues revolve around your own self-interests. All of this, even if I'm on the other side of the discussion, at the very least a rational discussion can be had in the first place.

I think fundamentally this project, like many things in life, is about trade offs. Do we sacrifice the convenience of today, for what could be even more convenient and efficient in the future. Are we fine spending this kind of money for something that doesn't exist yet when the current solution works satisfactory. I think a question I would ask from you is if you were to be persuaded (which I can't and will not do because I don't work for the project or can effect it in anyway) what would this project need to do to either alleviate your concerns, or mitigate your concerns. I don't know what those are, but it might be something you would wish to share.

Yes I'm in support of this project and have been sense its inception. Lets be real though. I no longer live in Houston, and so no matter what happens this has zero affects on me. That being said, as a long time Houstonian I think the tradeoff is worth it. My interests will always continue in Houston, and at some point I want to do business in the city, and I think this project in the long run will be a net benefit to the city and the areas that it effects (yes even with its problems which still must be resolved), rather than the current situation even if the with the disruption, and chaos it will bring during construction. 

Edited by Luminare
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1 hour ago, Luminare said:

I think a question I would ask from you is if you were to be persuaded (which I can't and will not do because I don't work for the project or can effect it in anyway) what would this project need to do to either alleviate your concerns, or mitigate your concerns. I don't know what those are, but it might be something you would wish to share.

I think for me, it comes down to "is it worth it?" In particular, the section around the downtown has me concerned. That's the hub of the city's freeway layout.

Unlike other opposition I've seen, I have no ideological objection. My objections are practical. And, I'm not opposed to the project as a whole either. The section between the downtown and the beltway simply needs widened. I have no objections there- the lanes are too narrow for the posted speeds. And the ramps south of the loop need merge lanes.

I get that the current design of I-45 around the downtown is not optimal in terms of ramps and interchanges, but last time I looked at the plans, they feature little to no additional lane capacity in the downtown. Their plan to alleviate congestion is to simply smooth the flow. Is that enough?

Additionally, I've not been convinced that there is anything wrong with elevated freeways. Yeah, they're kind of ugly. But if you have more than parking lots around them, they don't visually stand out. In terms of the effects on everything else, I have zero issue with the Pierce elevated, or US-59 next to Minute Maid. To me, one man's elevated freeway is another's covered parking. Additionally, I've looked at elevations for the proposed below-grade freeway and the road surface sits just below flood stage for the Buffalo Bayou. I think it's just a given that this thing will flood when we get a slow moving tropical storm. To me, that fact outweighs the benefits of burying the freeway.

The big thing to me is how insanely disruptive the project is likely to be. To be blunt, I don't believe any government timetables for road construction. We all know that if they say a road will take two years to build, it's reasonable to assume it will take five. The best information I can find on this project anticipates that the downtown would be significantly affected for eight years. So, to suspect that the downtown might be affected by this plan for twelve years does not seem unreasonable. That's well into the 2030's. That's crazy. 

So, while I am generally all in favor of freeway improvements. This project seems to offer little gain for an enormous imposition on time and budgets.

What would make it worth it to me?
1) Secure funding for those park caps. They're certainly cool and all, (I do like the Rodgers Freeway in downtown Dallas) but I'll believe it when I see it. Maybe get some corporate sponsorships. I'd be okay with "Exxon Park."

2) Somehow hard-limit the construction to 5-6 years tops. Surely construction doesn't need to last half a generation to have something nice.

3) Add lane capacity to I-45... even one extra lane in each direction through the downtown.
 

Edited by aachor
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How many lanes would you prefer be added?

My understanding is there's no room north of the existing highway ROW as it goes around the GRB. The land west of Saint E is already proposed as ROW. TxDOT could utilize the lots east of Saint E, but it would run into the East End II rail line as it leaves the BSNF Milby Yard near Commerce.

One may think the railways would support realignment if they could get a more direct path involving fewer crossings that require slowing speeds. But TxDOT included moving the terminal line that cuts through Fifth Ward into its initial design for the realignment, and by the last update I saw that project was listed as "not getting any traction" -- the lowest feasibility for a project. So I imagine railways were not receptive to that line going out for 'X'  period as the move happens.

Houston is not alone in this respect: https://www.rtands.com/freight/utah-county-says-road-projects-are-being-held-hostage-by-union-pacific-house-bill-addresses-problem/

More likely, TxDOT probably would've liked to widen east of Saint E. Not adding more capacity has been one of the larger gripes from suburban communities. In reality, going to the edge of that rail line is probably about as much as they could get without full-scale realignment of a primary rail line for three railway companies. I assume that would be costly, if the rails would even sign off on it in first place.

They could add more lanes in near northside, but they'd probably have to reduce them at Commerce, creating a choke point (unless they elevated that section above the rail). I imagine a lane reduction in one stretch would cause more traffic backup than leaving out those lanes. 

 

Screen Shot 2022-02-18 at 4.21.11 PM.png

Edited by JClark54
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4 hours ago, aachor said:

I think for me, it comes down to "is it worth it?" In particular, the section around the downtown has me concerned. That's the hub of the city's freeway layout.

Unlike other opposition I've seen, I have no ideological objection. My objections are practical. And, I'm not opposed to the project as a whole either. The section between the downtown and the beltway simply needs widened. I have no objections there- the lanes are too narrow for the posted speeds. And the ramps south of the loop need merge lanes.

I get that the current design of I-45 around the downtown is not optimal in terms of ramps and interchanges, but last time I looked at the plans, they feature little to no additional lane capacity in the downtown. Their plan to alleviate congestion is to simply smooth the flow. Is that enough?

Additionally, I've not been convinced that there is anything wrong with elevated freeways. Yeah, they're kind of ugly. But if you have more than parking lots around them, they don't visually stand out. In terms of the effects on everything else, I have zero issue with the Pierce elevated, or US-59 next to Minute Maid. To me, one man's elevated freeway is another's covered parking. Additionally, I've looked at elevations for the proposed below-grade freeway and the road surface sits just below flood stage for the Buffalo Bayou. I think it's just a given that this thing will flood when we get a slow moving tropical storm. To me, that fact outweighs the benefits of burying the freeway.

The big thing to me is how insanely disruptive the project is likely to be. To be blunt, I don't believe any government timetables for road construction. We all know that if they say a road will take two years to build, it's reasonable to assume it will take five. The best information I can find on this project anticipates that the downtown would be significantly affected for eight years. So, to suspect that the downtown might be affected by this plan for twelve years does not seem unreasonable. That's well into the 2030's. That's crazy. 

So, while I am generally all in favor of freeway improvements. This project seems to offer little gain for an enormous imposition on time and budgets.

What would make it worth it to me?
1) Secure funding for those park caps. They're certainly cool and all, (I do like the Rodgers Freeway in downtown Dallas) but I'll believe it when I see it. Maybe get some corporate sponsorships. I'd be okay with "Exxon Park."

2) Somehow hard-limit the construction to 5-6 years tops. Surely construction doesn't need to last half a generation to have something nice.

3) Add lane capacity to I-45... even one extra lane in each direction through the downtown.
 

Whoa boy, what a pretzel. Such technically specific concerns, but #1 solution is funding for cap parks. When your #1 supposed concern is about flooding and you want the freeway elevated.

I want to know who is funding THIS. 

Edited by mattyt36
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3 hours ago, JClark54 said:

How many lanes would you prefer be added?

Honestly, I think a single lane added in each direction would help immensely. There are four main lanes in each direction north of the downtown, and four south. But going through the downtown, where the congestion is, it bottlenecks to three lanes in each direction, and down to as little as two lanes in each direction at 59.

 

3 hours ago, JClark54 said:

My understanding is there's no room north of the existing highway ROW as it goes around the GRB. The land west of Saint E is already proposed as ROW. TxDOT could utilize the lots east of Saint E, but it would run into the East End II rail line as it leaves the BSNF Milby Yard near Commerce.

I did a little more reading and I found this slide. It seems a lot of the drawings that I've seen floated around are the two alternative designs which do save some Eado businesses. The original TxDOT proposal does add extra capacity, but basically bulldozes everything west of St. Emanuel. I guess that original proposal makes more sense to me in the grand scheme of things, while really screwing over a lot of small businesses.

The alternatives seem literally pointless. If TxDOT is going to put the city through all this trouble, there should be a serious net gain out of all of this.

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The reason for the downtown portion isn't about the amount of lanes, its about reducing car weaving between lanes and interchanges (of many reasons). A lot of crashes and traffic is because of the complex interchanges. Downtown's highway interchange is like a giant round-about, except cars are driving 65+ MPH and the lanes changes from below grade to above grade multiple times. It's inconsistent and poorly designed, and the people who initially built it (TXDOT) is telling us that. The creators of this...who built the highway themselves, is telling us its not working as efficiently anymore and needs to be changed. Besides that, I think we beat the topic to death about how the highways are physical barriers between the multiple neighborhoods around it. Let's not forget its a huge eyesore? A lot of housing directly next to the highways legit have cars going above their apartments..... Austin and other major cities are currently burying their highways because it disconnects neighborhoods, yet most people's arguments here is: 

Yeah but who's going to build the park? The city, Tirz, HoustonFirst....endless of organizations. If we built Emancipation park, Midtown park, and Discovery Green....what makes everyone so skeptical that we cannot do that again? I mean, look at memorial park, MILLIONS were raised. EVEN IF the park wasn't going to be built, there can still be bridges like the Montrose area, which is STILL a better than whats there today.

Why does it need to be trenched?  Why would you not want the freeways to be consistent? Its trenched near Montrose, then elevated near midtown, then trenched again near 3rd ward, then elevated again at pierce, then trenched again near the heights, all this within a few miles. lol does that sound/ look reasonable? Do I need to explain why thats a problem?

The current state of pierce is fine?  Uhm...NO it is definitely NOT, if ANYONE has even driven on pierce elevated, they would know that the car feels like its doing jumping jacks because of how wavy the highway is. Let's not forget how there's also exists going left and right, just too add a little spice to the bouncing cars. 

But displacement... Just look at my previous post, most of this portion of the project would be taking over empty lots NOT businesses/ homes.

It's going to be disruptive... ok?... should we just live with everything until it gets so bad that the next project becomes even more expensive and then we complain about why nothing wasn't already done.

Thank you for listening to my TedTalk 

image.png.8f2bd5723265a0e41468ae4523a1bdb8.png

Edited by Amlaham
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I think what a lot of people are missing is that in the long run, it's either a depressed urban freeway, or it's no freeway. There simply isn't any political will for keeping the Pierce, beyond a handful of roadgeeks and people ideologically opposed to giving urbanists a W. TxDOT doesn't want to maintain it anymore, and doesn't like what its continued presence does to its safety numbers. Developers have rightly seen that it's what keeps that area of downtown and Midtown permanently depressed.

The Pierce was a decent concept for a time long past - how to connect the Gulf Freeway to the proposed North Freeway. It's far outlived its usefulness.

 

@aachoryour argument is "I don't want to be personally disrupted by this". You don't think that would evoke emotional responses?

Edited by ADCS
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4 hours ago, aachor said:

Some of you all seem really emotionally invested in this project. I'm out of this thread.

“I posted in an opinion in a forum and people pointed out “inconsistencies” (and that’s a generous use of the word here) ergo I’m done here.”

4 hours ago, ADCS said:

 

@aachoryour argument is "I don't want to be personally disrupted by this". You don't think that would evoke emotional responses?

Well I guess he either (1) wanted to say his piece without anyone commenting, or (2) wanted everyone to agree and press the like button.

How fascinating this Internet contraption is.

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On 2/18/2022 at 3:11 PM, aachor said:

Additionally, I've looked at elevations for the proposed below-grade freeway and the road surface sits just below flood stage for the Buffalo Bayou. I think it's just a given that this thing will flood when we get a slow moving tropical storm. To me, that fact outweighs the benefits of burying the freeway.

TxDOT are well aware of this, as is everyone else involved in the project. Sunken freeways in Houston are designed to flood, on purpose. They are basic extra reservoirs that can be used to hold excess amounts of water during large rain events. They build them like that for that very reason.

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On 2/18/2022 at 3:11 PM, aachor said:

I think for me, it comes down to "is it worth it?" In particular, the section around the downtown has me concerned. That's the hub of the city's freeway layout.


So, while I am generally all in favor of freeway improvements. This project seems to offer little gain for an enormous imposition on time and budgets.

What would make it worth it to me?
1) Secure funding for those park caps. They're certainly cool and all, (I do like the Rodgers Freeway in downtown Dallas) but I'll believe it when I see it. Maybe get some corporate sponsorships. I'd be okay with "Exxon Park."

2) Somehow hard-limit the construction to 5-6 years tops. Surely construction doesn't need to last half a generation to have something nice.

3) Add lane capacity to I-45... even one extra lane in each direction through the downtown.
 

1) Funding will be secured for the EADO Park Cap. For anyone who follows meetings of the various downtown entities, there is really no question about that.  I'm slightly less certain of the Midtown caps but pretty confident they will happen as well. 

2) Construction of the whole Segment 3 will almost certainly take longer than 5-6 years. Big infrastructure rebuilds take time in order to minimize the disruption.  They could no doubt complete it faster, but it would increase the disruption exponentially.

3) Thank you for answering this concern in your own later post.  The link you provided https://www.houstontx.gov/planning/nhhip/docs_pdfs/Property/23 Eado Trench.pdf shows the downtown segment adds three lanes (1 southbound and 2 northbound) to I-45 and 5 lanes (3 southbound and 2 northbound) to I-69.  That is in addition to the capacity added by the improved geometry, intersections and the downtown connectors on the west side.

and with regard to flooding concerns:  "TxDOT is committed to designing drainage structures that meet or exceed water volumes associated with Houston’s recent flood events. Pump stations will be designed for a 500-year rainfall event. Backup pumps will be included in the system and will operate in case of primary pump failure. Berms/walls will be built around depressed roadway sections to prevent water sheet flow from overtopping into those areas."

Edited by Houston19514
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Question for those with more understanding than me: My understanding is the Record of Decision and EIS should contain all the designs or design alternatives chosen correct? Is this TxDOTs final decision, or will there still be changes since their is still opposition? 

 

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2 hours ago, freundb said:

Question for those with more understanding than me: My understanding is the Record of Decision and EIS should contain all the designs or design alternatives chosen correct? Is this TxDOTs final decision, or will there still be changes since their is still opposition? 

 

That is a good question and always good to recap where we are from a technical/legal perspective.

I don’t think the decision at this point is a TxDOT one.

The EIS was approved. I think you are correct in that the approval of the EIS pertains only to the alternatives evaluated … the process wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/media-center/local-news/houston/005-2021.html

After the approval, Harris County and others sued TxDOT. That is why we are where we are. A lot is said about this being a TxDOT project, but it’s even more a federal project from a funding perspective (and from the perspective of jurisdiction … these are all pending cases in federal court).

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9 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

1) Funding will be secured for the EADO Park Cap. For anyone who follows meetings of the various downtown entities, there is really no question about that.  I'm slightly less certain of the Midtown caps but pretty confident they will happen as well. 

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d really like to know where all of this concern about the funding of the cap park downtown is coming from. It just seems a weird thing to be concerned about “organically.” Someone at some point must have linked (very transparent, responsible, and appropriate, mind you) footnotes in the TxDOT presentation and created some conspiracy theory to the equivalent that TxDOT was coming for your children by promising cap parks that they couldn’t possibly ever fund. All while not knowing what a cap park is in the first place!

I agree with Houston#, downtown park is a certainty, midtown park something will def be built but it will seem like a compromise, the one that won’t be built is on the north side. Maybe if you guys are so concerned about cap parks you can put some political energy into that? Cuz the alternatives are (1) I45 as of now, or (2) some flavor of the NHHIP. There ain’t gonna be a subway or a train (BTW, you have one already, in case you hadn’t noticed) and people ain’t gonna move from Montgomery County to the City of Houston if you don’t widen the freeway … in fact it’s more than likely the opposite. And for those of you who say “No skin off my back, that means less sprawl,” I strongly advise you to sit back, screw in the bulb a little tighter, and think again.

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On 2/20/2022 at 1:56 AM, Big E said:

TxDOT are well aware of this, as is everyone else involved in the project. Sunken freeways in Houston are designed to flood, on purpose. They are basic extra reservoirs that can be used to hold excess amounts of water during large rain events. They build them like that for that very reason.

Thanks for this. People don't seem to realize that flooding is a feature, not a bug. As was pointed out upthread, flooding in a freeway is water that isn't in someone's house. 

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3 hours ago, Subdude said:

Thanks for this. People don't seem to realize that flooding is a feature, not a bug. As was pointed out upthread, flooding in a freeway is water that isn't in someone's house. 

I don't think that is their goal at all, and I don't think that can be their goal. when the highways flood, people lose cars and people lose lives, specifically because the water comes up faster than the people can escape. numerous deaths of people stranded in their cars (or those unwise enough to drive into flooded highways) would suggest that using a freeway as an overflow retention is a bad idea.

as someone quoted above, they are committed to designing this so it has equipment that can drain them when we have 500 year flood events, which is a great goal, and hopefully there is redundancy, and hopefully they are moving the water to a location takes into consideration that when that area floods, the water has no where to go. 

I think at one point they may have considered highways as retention ponds. after flooding events of our recent history, when you review the volumes of water that fell in major flooding events vs the volume of water these structures will hold it won't stop the flooding, and certainly, when the rain is coming down in Meyerland a trenched freeway near downtown isn't going to have any appreciable effect on Brays Bayou flood levels.

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15 hours ago, freundb said:

Question for those with more understanding than me: My understanding is the Record of Decision and EIS should contain all the designs or design alternatives chosen correct? Is this TxDOTs final decision, or will there still be changes since their is still opposition? 

 

It has always been the case that some changes would continue to be made, even before the grandstanding county and federal politicians got involved.

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3 hours ago, samagon said:

I don't think that is their goal at all, and I don't think that can be their goal. when the highways flood, people lose cars and people lose lives, specifically because the water comes up faster than the people can escape. numerous deaths of people stranded in their cars (or those unwise enough to drive into flooded highways) would suggest that using a freeway as an overflow retention is a bad idea.

as someone quoted above, they are committed to designing this so it has equipment that can drain them when we have 500 year flood events, which is a great goal, and hopefully there is redundancy, and hopefully they are moving the water to a location takes into consideration that when that area floods, the water has no where to go. 

I think at one point they may have considered highways as retention ponds. after flooding events of our recent history, when you review the volumes of water that fell in major flooding events vs the volume of water these structures will hold it won't stop the flooding, and certainly, when the rain is coming down in Meyerland a trenched freeway near downtown isn't going to have any appreciable effect on Brays Bayou flood levels.

Yes, that is the explicit goal. Look, the people who build these freeways aren't stupid. They know they will flood, they know the local water table, the know how close to sea level any particular area of Houston is. They take all that into account. When major rains or tropical events happen, those freeways are closed traffic. Most of the deaths that happen when someone drives into a flooded freeway is due to people ignoring warning signs and blockades, like that infamous case of that young woman who drove her SUV into a flooded exit ramp and drowned. She drove around a barricade and workers warning her against it to do so.

All in all, most flood deaths of people who die in their cars is due to people trying to drive through flood waters in the first place. This is never advisable for anyone, in any circumstance.

Edited by Big E
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I don't like this thread, as there is nothing that will ever be accomplished from arguing about whether it should/shouldn't be built. however making a statement like this....

3 hours ago, Big E said:

Yes, that is the explicit goal. Look, the people who build these freeways aren't stupid. They know they will flood, they know the local water table, the know how close to sea level any particular area of Houston is. They take all that into account. When major rains or tropical events happen, those freeways are closed traffic. Most of the deaths that happen when someone drives into a flooded freeway is due to people ignoring warning signs and blockades, like that infamous case of that young woman who drove her SUV into a flooded exit ramp and drowned. She drove around a barricade and workers warning her against it to do so.

All in all, most flood deaths of people who die in their cars is due to people trying to drive through flood waters in the first place. This is never advisable for anyone, in any circumstance.

and then not providing any proof that they want freeways to flood.

I'm going to ask that you provide some documentation from TXDOT that says this is the goal.

as a matter of fact, most of the documents I have found show that, explicitly, these below grade freeways should never flood, up to and including, 500 year events.

https://ehq-production-us-california.s3.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/35156bcca5a6a5e3844db7b61b6de82afb27f9c9/original/1603464727/FEIS_Flooding_201018.pdf_fd963ffdb4710b7a4107d667997120bf?X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIBJCUKKD4ZO4WUUA%2F20220221%2Fus-west-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20220221T225533Z&X-Amz-Expires=300&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=7c54694bd3cf17947223f4af971c68e34d2afdeafc00900dcb3eb3190c195d32

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/transportation/article/Bayou-City-Initiative-demands-improved-planning-14556623.php

to continue flooding... the concern by residents that by making the freeways wider, it is going to kick more water into their neighborhoods and increase the severity of flooding events, that's a hot topic we can probably discuss, and is probably part of the discussion at the national level.

http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/nhhip/docs_pdfs/NHHIP_June_Public_Meetings_Comments_Received.pdf

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On 2/21/2022 at 5:11 PM, samagon said:

I don't like this thread, as there is nothing that will ever be accomplished from arguing about whether it should/shouldn't be built. however making a statement like this....

and then not providing any proof that they want freeways to flood.

I'm going to ask that you provide some documentation from TXDOT that says this is the goal.

as a matter of fact, most of the documents I have found show that, explicitly, these below grade freeways should never flood, up to and including, 500 year events.

https://ehq-production-us-california.s3.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/35156bcca5a6a5e3844db7b61b6de82afb27f9c9/original/1603464727/FEIS_Flooding_201018.pdf_fd963ffdb4710b7a4107d667997120bf?X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIBJCUKKD4ZO4WUUA%2F20220221%2Fus-west-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20220221T225533Z&X-Amz-Expires=300&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=7c54694bd3cf17947223f4af971c68e34d2afdeafc00900dcb3eb3190c195d32

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/transportation/article/Bayou-City-Initiative-demands-improved-planning-14556623.php

to continue flooding... the concern by residents that by making the freeways wider, it is going to kick more water into their neighborhoods and increase the severity of flooding events, that's a hot topic we can probably discuss, and is probably part of the discussion at the national level.

http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/nhhip/docs_pdfs/NHHIP_June_Public_Meetings_Comments_Received.pdf

That first link doesn't go anywhere, so I don't know what you are linking to. As for the second, I read the article and found this quote:

 

Quote

In the past, TxDOT officials have conceded many of the spots lack the ability to handle severe storms because drainage is outdated or nearby bayous swell, meaning the system meant to carry water away has nowhere to put it. They argue, however, that flooding the depressed segments of freeway helps keep that water out of nearby homes.

TxDOT is outright conceding that they are using the freeways as ad-hoc detention ponds. They know they will flood. They accept it as better than the alternative, due to the city's numerous drainage issues.

 

The third link is a link to comments to public meetings. I don't know what that supposed to accomplish, since those comments come from all kinds of people, with all kinds of goals, interests, and fears, who have no knowledge of engineering. At least one comment actually opposes raising a depressed freeway above the ground because they fear that it will force flooding into surrounding areas:

Quote

How are you going to keep my house and neighbors houses from flooding if you raise the elevation of the freeway. I-45 south of Main Street where water already collects and came close to the bottom of the North Street Bridge.

 

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On 2/20/2022 at 1:56 AM, Big E said:

TxDOT are well aware of this, as is everyone else involved in the project. Sunken freeways in Houston are designed to flood, on purpose. They are basic extra reservoirs that can be used to hold excess amounts of water during large rain events. They build them like that for that very reason.

I attended one of the earliest meetings TxDoT hosted concerning lowering spur 527 to the level of I59. Residents were very concerned about flooding of the Historic homes nearby. TxDoT spokesperson explained that TxDoT had invested in State of the art “super” pumps capable of pumping a kazillion gallons per hour to prevent potential of flooding. But when TxDoT was asked where the kazillion gallons  of water would be pumped to……….. no answer……….just seemed stumped for an answer.

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10 hours ago, Big E said:

That first link doesn't go anywhere, so I don't know what you are linking to. As for the second, I read the article and found this quote:

ah, I linked the document. went back and found the article that linked to that document, and it appears to work, if you let it redirect from the other site. 

https://www.letstalkhouston.org/7872/widgets/24371/documents/15066

this is the FEIS for the NHHIP in regards to flooding.

and this is what it states:

Quote

The FEIS says that depressed sections of highway will be designed for large rainfall events, but it does not identify those design criteria. Depressed sections of highway will have pumps, detention ponds, and drainage outlets designed to pump rainwater out of the highway as the rain falls. According to the document, “Depressed sections of the proposed project will be designed to handle extreme weather events with rainfall levels similar to the region’s three most recent flood events: Memorial Day (2015), Tax Day (2016), and Hurricane Harvey (2017). Additionally, the project will be designed to meet and/or exceed the most recent guidelines set by the HCFCD” (FEIS p. 3-61).

to me, the above statement reads they are setting an expectation to be able to evacuate enough water from the depressed roadways so that they will be kept clear of water in events like the ones referenced.

I get it, some people at TXDoT may have made the statements you referenced below, but the FEIS should be the defining document, and actually, if someone at TXDoT contradicts the findings of the FEIS, or if the highway doesn't meet the expectations laid out in the FEIS, then that's a huge problem. unless I am mistaken, the FEIS is what TXDoT gives to the federal government that says what they will do before the federal government says 'take my money', and if they don't actually adhere to those expectations, that's a problem.

10 hours ago, Big E said:

TxDOT is outright conceding that they are using the freeways as ad-hoc detention ponds. They know they will flood. They accept it as better than the alternative, due to the city's numerous drainage issues.

 

The third link is a link to comments to public meetings. I don't know what that supposed to accomplish, since those comments come from all kinds of people, with all kinds of goals, interests, and fears, who have no knowledge of engineering. At least one comment actually opposes raising a depressed freeway above the ground because they fear that it will force flooding into surrounding areas:

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/21/2022 at 2:48 PM, sapo2367 said:

TXDOT seems to have purchased all three blocks of Lofts at the Ballpark, so that would align with the news that all tenants are getting kicked out. I do hope though that this doesn't get mired in some sort of legal morass with an empty apartment building sitting there for an extended period of time. I could see that getting really run down and sketchy.

Can anyone point to a freeway that hasn't divided, ruined, or otherwise negatively impacted an urban neighborhood?  

I haven't been everywhere, but of the places I've been, it seems like lots of cities are tearing  down or burying their big urban freeways because they ruin the quality of life for people living near them.  Seattle, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Boston, and New York come to mind.  Over the last 20 years, Chicago has had at least three proposals to cap the Kennedy Expressway, and one to shove Lake Shore Drive underwater.  The city, CDOT, ILDOT, and the planning commissions all encourage large skyscrapers along I-90/94 to act like giant visual walls and sound barriers to isolate the noise, filth, and blight of the highway from the city. 

I'd like to see a city that's figured out how to make this work. How to integrate highways and neighborhoods in a way that works for both. 

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On 3/5/2022 at 12:11 PM, editor said:

Can anyone point to a freeway that hasn't divided, ruined, or otherwise negatively impacted an urban neighborhood?  

I haven't been everywhere, but of the places I've been, it seems like lots of cities are tearing  down or burying their big urban freeways because they ruin the quality of life for people living near them.  Seattle, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Boston, and New York come to mind.  Over the last 20 years, Chicago has had at least three proposals to cap the Kennedy Expressway, and one to shove Lake Shore Drive underwater.  The city, CDOT, ILDOT, and the planning commissions all encourage large skyscrapers along I-90/94 to act like giant visual walls and sound barriers to isolate the noise, filth, and blight of the highway from the city. 

I'd like to see a city that's figured out how to make this work. How to integrate highways and neighborhoods in a way that works for both. 

Airports are also noisy and ugly so we should just demolish them as well, and throw things on the list like sewage treatment plants etc. Did I-10 dived and ruin Katy? Is the Woodlands ruined by 45?

People vote with their feet and this is what people wanted at the time highways were built in central cities. Demographics and priorities change so it's ok to re-evaluate but just saying highways are a flat out negative is useless. 

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2 hours ago, iah77 said:

Airports are also noisy and ugly so we should just demolish them as well, and throw things on the list like sewage treatment plants etc. Did I-10 dived and ruin Katy? Is the Woodlands ruined by 45?

People vote with their feet and this is what people wanted at the time highways were built in central cities. Demographics and priorities change so it's ok to re-evaluate but just saying highways are a flat out negative is useless. 

it's a good thing I learned to type without seeing the keyboard, my eyes have rolled so far back in my head from this comment I can't physically see my keyboard.

i-10, when built originally went around Katy. there's a section of i-10 that veers south approximately 3000 feet, which was to accommodate not going through Katy. you can exit highway 90, and that is going through Katy. had i-10 plowed through that, Katy would be a very different place now.

the Woodlands didn't exist when i-45 was built. 

the interstate highway system was built to divert around rural towns. take a look at a map sometime, you can focus in on i-10 between Houston and San Antonio, but every other interstate is built the same way. Katy, Brookshire, Sealy, Columbus, Schulenburg, Seguin. each of these places i-10 was originally built to NOT plow through the middle of the community. they knew then what you are trying to ignore now, that freeways destroy communities. 

this is a fun video: 

 

it turns out, people want their community to grow near a freeway, they don't want the freeway to be built through their community.

at the end of the day, freeways enable suburbs to be built around them. while at the same time a freeway built through the middle of a community will tear it apart. 

my eyes are finally unrolling themselves, so I'll just submit reply now.

Edited by samagon
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21 hours ago, iah77 said:

Airports are also noisy and ugly so we should just demolish them as well, and throw things on the list like sewage treatment plants etc. Did I-10 dived and ruin Katy? Is the Woodlands ruined by 45?

People vote with their feet and this is what people wanted at the time highways were built in central cities. Demographics and priorities change so it's ok to re-evaluate but just saying highways are a flat out negative is useless. 

They clearly said *urban* neighborhood. Katy and the Woodlands certainly do not fall in that category. You should be asking about places like the Galleria, or The Heights/GOOF. I would argue that those are the exceptions to the rule; and not even necessarily exceptions. Even in those areas, the blocks immediately adjacent to freeways are typically pretty rough.

At the end of the day, freeways probably are a necessary evil in some sense, but I don't think there's a person on the planet who thinks a neighborhood is made BETTER by one coming through.

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On 3/9/2022 at 3:17 PM, samagon said:

i-10, when built originally went around Katy. there's a section of i-10 that veers south approximately 3000 feet, which was to accommodate not going through Katy. you can exit highway 90, and that is going through Katy. had i-10 plowed through that, Katy would be a very different place now.

the Woodlands didn't exist when i-45 was built. 

the interstate highway system was built to divert around rural towns. take a look at a map sometime, you can focus in on i-10 between Houston and San Antonio, but every other interstate is built the same way. Katy, Brookshire, Sealy, Columbus, Schulenburg, Seguin. each of these places i-10 was originally built to NOT plow through the middle of the community. they knew then what you are trying to ignore now, that freeways destroy communities. 

 

On 3/10/2022 at 10:58 AM, Andrew Ewert said:

They clearly said *urban* neighborhood. Katy and the Woodlands certainly do not fall in that category. You should be asking about places like the Galleria, or The Heights/GOOF. I would argue that those are the exceptions to the rule; and not even necessarily exceptions. Even in those areas, the blocks immediately adjacent to freeways are typically pretty rough.

News flash to both of you gentlemen. When most of these freeways were first being developed and built, neighborhoods like the Galleria area and Sharpstown were also undeveloped or developing suburbs. Those skyscrapers and the Galleria didn't exist when the loop was put in, it was farmland. Sharpstown was still developing when the right of way was taken for the Southwest Freeway. The Beltway's right of way was mostly through farmland, except when it came to Jersey Village, which did exist at the time, and, as Samagon pointed out, the freeway was diverted around that town, which is why it has that weird notch in it. Ever wonder why Houston's freeways are so straight? Its because they were traveling through farmland and undeveloped land, except the parts closest to downtown

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On 3/10/2022 at 10:58 AM, Andrew Ewert said:

They clearly said *urban* neighborhood. Katy and the Woodlands certainly do not fall in that category. You should be asking about places like the Galleria, or The Heights/GOOF. I would argue that those are the exceptions to the rule; and not even necessarily exceptions. Even in those areas, the blocks immediately adjacent to freeways are typically pretty rough.

At the end of the day, freeways probably are a necessary evil in some sense, but I don't think there's a person on the planet who thinks a neighborhood is made BETTER by one coming through.

I'm sure you can find more than one person who welcomes the convenience of jumping on the highway near their house and getting around quicker than they were before on the backroads.

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9 hours ago, august948 said:

I'm sure you can find more than one person who welcomes the convenience of jumping on the highway near their house and getting around quicker than they were before on the backroads.

But the question was if anyone thought the freeway made the neighborhood better, not how quickly one can escape from the hellhole it became after its integrity was destroyed.

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I think it depends on which highway. For example, I wouldn't mind living close to i10, 610 (garden oaks/uptown/ Bellaire), or the recently finished 290. When the state manicures the highway with trees and landscape, it can actually complement the adjacent neighborhoods. However, when there isn't any type of community planning... the area in and around the highway looks rough. IMO the area around i45 would be more desirable to live in if we reconstructed the highway and let TXDOT be the catalyst to manicure the area 🤷‍♂️ I mean it does work, look at 288, it looks so much nicer today than it ever did and a lot of new housing projects are right along the freeway. This isn't a trains vs highway discussion, there is a highway there and it needs to be fixed. Pictures for perspective 

2078320995_ScreenShot2022-03-12at11_54_16AM.png.f83f992ac82a285ab7d06be1f4d4467a.png368282198_ScreenShot2022-03-12at11_55_10AM.png.9234f479b02d79adf579fedbdd65487d.png653588413_ScreenShot2022-03-12at12_01_13PM.png.1214cac69fbf1923f669cd410ebc6ea7.png431878989_ScreenShot2022-03-12at11_56_18AM.png.08a5a19e0cb6dab60f1f1efd5f0f23dc.png1715093146_ScreenShot2022-03-12at11_58_15AM.png.ded2d251c9ddfaded37d9783c6cb1801.png

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21 hours ago, Big E said:

 

News flash to both of you gentlemen. When most of these freeways were first being developed and built, neighborhoods like the Galleria area and Sharpstown were also undeveloped or developing suburbs. Those skyscrapers and the Galleria didn't exist when the loop was put in, it was farmland. Sharpstown was still developing when the right of way was taken for the Southwest Freeway. The Beltway's right of way was mostly through farmland, except when it came to Jersey Village, which did exist at the time, and, as Samagon pointed out, the freeway was diverted around that town, which is why it has that weird notch in it. Ever wonder why Houston's freeways are so straight? Its because they were traveling through farmland and undeveloped land, except the parts closest to downtown

not sure how this is a news flash? this is exactly what I said. 

people want their community to grow near a freeway, they don't want the freeway to be built through their community.

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1 hour ago, samagon said:

not sure how this is a news flash? this is exactly what I said. 

people want their community to grow near a freeway, they don't want the freeway to be built through their community.

Are new highways currently being built through neighborhoods or are we just talking about how things used to be.

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13 hours ago, august948 said:

Are new highways currently being built through neighborhoods or are we just talking about how things used to be.

pretty sure expanding a freeway through an existing community is just as frowned upon.

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23 hours ago, samagon said:

pretty sure expanding a freeway through an existing community is just as frowned upon.

Expanding an existing freeway is somewhat different from tearing up the "integrity" of a neighborhood to build a brand new one.  You can argue, as in the case of the I45 expansion, that the loss of homes and businesses on the borders is bad, but it's really not the same as the old, and to my knowledge abandoned, practice of actually destroying the integrity of existing neighborhoods by creating a new freeway where one did not exist before.  Try connecting I10 with 610 and 45 by creating a new "Yale Freeway" through the heights and see what happens.

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9 minutes ago, august948 said:

Expanding an existing freeway is somewhat different from tearing up the "integrity" of a neighborhood to build a brand new one.  You can argue, as in the case of the I45 expansion, that the loss of homes and businesses on the borders is bad, but it's really not the same as the old, and to my knowledge abandoned, practice of actually destroying the integrity of existing neighborhoods by creating a new freeway where one did not exist before.  Try connecting I10 with 610 and 45 by creating a new "Yale Freeway" through the heights and see what happens.

well, you really should go back and ask @iah77 to not bring up the subject then.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was presented with a TIRZ 15 mobility study, and within it is a claim Polk Street will not connect to downtown if the NHHIP moves forward. Please see the image. 

2022-03-28.jpg.167ec515e0cbe83e4d32df366d5afef6.jpg

This development, if true, differs from prior TxDOT presentations where Polk crossed the highway. Please view this image, which was pulled from the active project presentation on TxDOT's web site. 

unnamed.png.770dbb90e49474d7b6e6e0f589e38236.png

People driving towards downtown from areas further east use the Polk underpass to cross the East End II rail line. Forcing them to jag from Polk to another street, likely Leeland, to continue downtown will increase cut-throughs on otherwise residential streets or non-major thoroughfares, especially for those unfamiliar with the area. Happens already when a train blocks crossings, and people who're not knowledgeable with which streets cross the rail line go racing around at great speeds, making u-turns or off-roading on curbing (in the case of freight traffic), etc., trying to find passage. This would just make the high-speed urban exploration on traditionally quieter roads more regular.  

Polk also has the most well-developed bicycle crossing in the study area, which will be lost. Could be moved to Leeland, but the roadway split on the downtown side makes it less friendly than Polk. 

 

Edited by JClark54
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On 3/28/2022 at 6:51 AM, JClark54 said:

I was presented with a TIRZ 15 mobility study, and within it is a claim Polk Street will not connect to downtown if the NHHIP moves forward. Please see the image. 

 

This development, if true, differs from prior TxDOT presentations where Polk crossed the highway. Please view this image, which was pulled from the active project presentation on TxDOT's web site. 

 

People driving towards downtown from areas further east use the Polk underpass to cross the East End II rail line. Forcing them to jag from Polk to another street, likely Leeland, to continue downtown will increase cut-throughs on otherwise residential streets or non-major thoroughfares, especially for those unfamiliar with the area. Happens already when a train blocks crossings, and people who're not knowledgeable with which streets cross the rail line go racing around at great speeds, making u-turns or off-roading on curbing (in the case of freight traffic), etc., trying to find passage. This would just make the high-speed urban exploration on traditionally quieter roads more regular.  

Polk also has the most well-developed bicycle crossing in the study area, which will be lost. Could be moved to Leeland, but the roadway split on the downtown side makes it less friendly than Polk. 

 

https://www.txdot.gov/nhhip/timeline.html

it's not a claim. it's been designed this way since at least April of 2015 (according to the date on the map):

https://www.txdot.gov/content/dam/project-sites/nhhip/docs/segment-3-pm4-exhibit-02-eastern-half.pdf

this design has been this way for a while, for TIRZ 15 to only now notice is bad handling on their part.

under the current design, the intent is for Polk traffic heading into town to turn left onto St. Emanuel (which will be 2 way at that point), and then turn right onto Leeland.

Edited by samagon
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13 hours ago, samagon said:

https://www.txdot.gov/nhhip/timeline.html

it's not a claim. it's been designed this way since at least April of 2015 (according to the date on the map):

https://www.txdot.gov/content/dam/project-sites/nhhip/docs/segment-3-pm4-exhibit-02-eastern-half.pdf

this design has been this way for a while, for TIRZ 15 to only now notice is bad handling on their part.

under the current design, the intent is for Polk traffic heading into town to turn left onto St. Emanuel (which will be 2 way at that point), and then turn right onto Leeland.

I don't think the linked map is the current state-of-the-art plan for the area.  I believe it now  routes in-bound Polk Street traffic north (right-turn) on St Emanuel (which is a one-way going north), then take a U-Turn lane at Lamar, which puts you directly on to Hamilton.  From there, you can turn on to Polk.  (Per the interactive map they have on the front page of the NHHIP website.)  

https://www.txdot.gov/nhhip.html

"Realigning" Metro's 40/41 routes should be a pretty easy task.  Maybe the TIRZ was looking for an easy success story.  😉

Edited by Houston19514
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