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  #21  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 8:38 PM
Northern Light Northern Light is offline
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The city is reliant on cars because the population is spread out. Those freeways are utilized by commuters in far flung neighborhoods and suburbs. There is no other viable alternative. Houston is not a compact metro with a dense centralized population where mass transit can effectively serve the region as well as freeways. A commuter rail might work for larger suburbs; Woodlands, Sugar Land, Katy, Galveston, etc but there's a lot of politics involved and the city is already expanding light-rail but that's limited to the inner loop area.
For $7 Billion, how much of non-urban, non-transit friendly, and flood-prone suburban Houston could you remove?

The answer, on property acquisition costs, using the average price of a home in Houston is roughly 24,000 properties, housing in/around 70,000 people.

Obviously there are demolition costs etc.

But, you get to withdrawl some of the most expensive services from water to garbage from areas that are inefficient to service.

I've never understood why this sort of thinking isn't an option.

I pointed out in discussion about a Toronto subway extension, that one could move the entire suburban 'downtown' it was destined to serve to the existing subway terminus for less money!

If Houston is inefficiently laid out (and it is), then rather than spending billions trying to service a giant mistake........better to spend those billions erasing the mistake.

What's left will be far more cost-effective to serve in an environmentally responsible way.

If you add what Houston has in its other medium/long-term infrastructure budgets from water/sewer, to transit, to parks/community centres...........you have a good 20 Billion to play with.

Better off to relocate 120,000 people and 1 major demand-driver (a post-secondary school, a hospital, a mall) .....

This will free up all that highway capacity you need.

Then spend much more strategically on modest capacity expansion/service-frequency upgrades for the existing transit infrastructure, libraries/parks etc.
     
     
  #22  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 8:56 PM
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You lost me at relocating 120,000 people. That's more dystopian than any freeway expansion...of which is not the most ideal solution but it is what it is. My suburb is about 80,000 and in very floody area and if that were to 'go away', the plans for these freeways would not change since 80,000 people is a drop in the well in a metro of 7 million. Those 80,000 people would move to other suburbs with similar property values, not the city where homes cost 2-3x and shittier schools.
     
     
  #23  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 9:17 PM
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woah, is it 1960?
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  #24  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 9:27 PM
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
The city is reliant on cars because the population is spread out. Those freeways are utilized by commuters in far flung neighborhoods and suburbs. There is no other viable alternative. Houston is not a compact metro with a dense centralized population where mass transit can effectively serve the region as well as freeways. A commuter rail might work for larger suburbs; Woodlands, Sugar Land, Katy, Galveston, etc but there's a lot of politics involved and the city is already expanding light-rail but that's limited to the inner loop area.
I'm actually surprised that Houston does not have commuter rail; even Albuquerque has commuter rail, and it's a much smaller city and metro area.
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  #25  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 9:29 PM
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Why?
Because Boston didn't spend billions of dollars widening highways to the length of football fields and created new ring roads for the Big Dig, they added an airport connection that goes entirely underground. Boston's cap had full funding and it still took almost ten years to finish. None of these conceptual caps will happen in your lifetime. This is much more like an Eisenhower era highway project, it's displacing thousands of people.

The parts being removed are a weak consolation prize for this massive sprawl subsidy and who even knows if that'll happen, are they going to start removing those parts of the highway first? Otherwise it'll be decades for a removal to take place if ever.
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  #26  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 9:32 PM
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
You lost me at relocating 120,000 people. That's more dystopian than any freeway expansion...of which is not the most ideal solution but it is what it is. My suburb is about 80,000 and in very floody area and if that were to 'go away', the plans for these freeways would not change since 80,000 people is a drop in the well in a metro of 7 million. Those 80,000 people would move to other suburbs with similar property values, not the city where homes cost 2-3x and shittier schools.
There should be no communities w/'shittier' schools.

That is a failing in dire need of correction.

All schools in a state should be state-funded and administered and school boards should be entirely abolished.

Lest you think this is some how radical the Canadian Province of New Brunswick abolished school boards a generation ago; and the province of Quebec is moving to do the same now.

They are an anachronism.

Planning laws should also ban the construction of anything else 'suburban'.

Again this is effectively the case already in Toronto. Its not quite a 'ban' but the Provincial Planning laws and policies set minimum density requirements, along with requiring sidewalks and various other 'urban' amenities such that the suburban style of the '90s and prior years is now exceedingly rare in new construction here.

*****

There is nothing dystopian about correcting mistakes, about prioritizing the wise investment of tax dollars or removing people from regulatory floodplains where houses never should have been allowed in the first place.

The notion that such an idea is scary is beyond peculiar.
     
     
  #27  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 9:54 PM
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You can't correct mistakes by erasing them. The suburbs that are already built and habitable are not going anywhere and the only solution is to make them more sustainable. However that may be. There were several thousand homes that were wiped out during Harvey that the county came in and bought out and those areas are done for as far as further development. Previously, they would flood, insurance would pay out and people would rebuild until the next flood.

RE: the schools; absolutely agreed but in this country, that is unlikely to ever come to fruition to due politics.

@sopas ej: suburban residents are dead opposed to any form of commuter rail. Much of it based on racism.
     
     
  #28  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 10:22 PM
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If your goal is more driving, this sounds like a big step forward.
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  #29  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by sopas ej View Post
I'm actually surprised that Houston does not have commuter rail; even Albuquerque has commuter rail, and it's a much smaller city and metro area.
We have a grade separated park and ride system that uses the freeways to serve the 4 major central employment centers. That's where mass transit commuter solutions should begin, upgrading and expanding that.

I wonder how effective commuter rail is in Albuquerque.
     
     
  #30  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Honestly, for a freeway project in Houston this one is remarkably progressive. It removes half of the downtown freeway loop completely, removing the barrier on the south and west sides of downtown Houston. The other half of the downtown freeway loop gets pushed below ground, where it can be covered by park space, convention center expansion, stadium parking decks, or (maybe) private development.

It also sinks the Southwest Freeway through Midtown, where the Main St corridor will benefit urbanistically.

Basically, it's Houston's Big Dig, and should have many of the same urban benefits that Boston experienced whether the trenches get decked over or not. Those who are screaming about a "boondoggle freeway expansion" are deliberately ignoring the very real freeway removals and remediations that are part of the project.
Pretty much. This would incorporate the Big Dig and Dallas's Klyde Warren Park (park over a trenched freeway) on a bigger scale. It would essentially reverse a significant chunk of freeway slicing through downtown and walling off sections.
     
     
  #31  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
The city is reliant on cars because the population is spread out. Those freeways are utilized by commuters in far flung neighborhoods and suburbs. There is no other viable alternative. Houston is not a compact metro with a dense centralized population where mass transit can effectively serve the region as well as freeways. A commuter rail might work for larger suburbs; Woodlands, Sugar Land, Katy, Galveston, etc but there's a lot of politics involved and the city is already expanding light-rail but that's limited to the inner loop area.
In my opinion it is not lack of highways that's the problem in Houston, but lack of adequate secondary roads available as alternatives. Feeder roads do not provide an adequate alternative if the main lanes are clogged, as they are often worse. The design of the road system also means freeways are required for local traffic, additionally clogging sometimes just for an exit or two.

There has been incredibly little update or improvement to non-freeway arteries in the last 20 years beyond re-striping or cleanup/repaving of a few blocks.

Besides the effect of funneling all traffic to freeways due to lack of connectivity on secondary roads, the secondary road system infrastructure itself is inadequate to hold peak traffic everywhere, and sometimes it is especially worse in the furthest suburbs that still depend on old Farm to Market roads to handle major commuter traffic.
     
     
  #32  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Honestly, for a freeway project in Houston this one is remarkably progressive. It removes half of the downtown freeway loop completely, removing the barrier on the south and west sides of downtown Houston. The other half of the downtown freeway loop gets pushed below ground, where it can be covered by park space, convention center expansion, stadium parking decks, or (maybe) private development.

It also sinks the Southwest Freeway through Midtown, where the Main St corridor will benefit urbanistically.

Basically, it's Houston's Big Dig, and should have many of the same urban benefits that Boston experienced whether the trenches get decked over or not. Those who are screaming about a "boondoggle freeway expansion" are deliberately ignoring the very real freeway removals and remediations that are part of the project.
Do you have more information about this? The article didn't say anything about removing half the freeway loop
     
     
  #33  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 12:35 AM
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
You can't correct mistakes by erasing them.
Why have spell check?, a backspace key, the option to delete a file, or in old-school parlance, the eraser end of a pencil or liquid paper?

Mistakes are meant to be erased.

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The suburbs that are already built and habitable are not going anywhere and the only solution is to make them more sustainable.
That seems defeatist.

Quote:
There were several thousand homes that were wiped out during Harvey that the county came in and bought out and those areas are done for as far as further development.
Wait a minute.......Harvey erased some mistakes.....and that's ok.......but you're not allowed to do it on purpose?

Quote:
Previously, they would flood, insurance would pay out and people would rebuild until the next flood.
That would seem an abundantly good reason to to get rid of those homes/neighbourhoods.

Not to mention it would surely save some lives as well, in the next big storm.

It would then make that storm much cheaper to deal with as there's less damage, no people in danger, fewer roads closed and much less need for emergency/disaster response.......etc.
     
     
  #34  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Northern Light View Post
Why have spell check?, a backspace key, the option to delete a file, or in old-school parlance, the eraser end of a pencil or liquid paper?

Mistakes are meant to be erased.
Fixing mistakes takes time and will power.

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That seems defeatist.
No, just pragmatic given real life constraints.

Quote:
Wait a minute.......Harvey erased some mistakes.....and that's ok.......but you're not allowed to do it on purpose?
That's right, uprooting people due to lack of urban ideals isn't a viable plan.
     
     
  #35  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 1:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Honestly, for a freeway project in Houston this one is remarkably progressive. It removes half of the downtown freeway loop completely, removing the barrier on the south and west sides of downtown Houston. The other half of the downtown freeway loop gets pushed below ground, where it can be covered by park space, convention center expansion, stadium parking decks, or (maybe) private development.

It also sinks the Southwest Freeway through Midtown, where the Main St corridor will benefit urbanistically.

Basically, it's Houston's Big Dig, and should have many of the same urban benefits that Boston experienced whether the trenches get decked over or not. Those who are screaming about a "boondoggle freeway expansion" are deliberately ignoring the very real freeway removals and remediations that are part of the project.
This, this and fucking this! Yes, this is an extremely expensive project. But yes, it will be removing two sides of horrific elevated freeway that acts as both a massive physical and mental separation around downtown Houston. The gridlock is absolutely real, the narrow freeways are absolutely real (in the downtown loop area), and the interchanges are a disaster.

Hopefully this will finally allow some congestion relief, allowing not only cars but also buses to easier get in and out of downtown, especially the regional/express buses.

Aaron (Glowrock)
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  #36  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 1:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
If your goal is more driving, this sounds like a big step forward.
Fine. Let's stop driving in Houston. So we've got buses (stuck in the same traffic as cars except where HOV/Transit/dedicated bus lanes exist), light rail (limited in Houston, no political will to get it really extended as far as it needs to), and of course walking/bicycling. You've got a metro area that's spread out to hell and over 6 million people. How do you expect to be able to get around town? What if one half of a couple works in one area and the other one works in a completely different area? Seriously, Houston isn't going to be able to be weaned from the automobile anytime soon. Getting rid of two parts of the downtown ring is a very good thing, both visually and bettering commute times. Yes, that means the other two parts are going to be even wider than before, but I'm not sure how else you can do this.

At any rate, Houston is a commuting disaster already. No amount of mass transit infrastructure is going to fix this, unfortunately.

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  #37  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 1:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Northern Light View Post
Why have spell check?, a backspace key, the option to delete a file, or in old-school parlance, the eraser end of a pencil or liquid paper?

Mistakes are meant to be erased.
Someone's home is not a spelling error. You seem to be a little cavalier with seizing people's homes against their will for a little social engineering.

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Originally Posted by Northern Light View Post

Wait a minute.......Harvey erased some mistakes.....and that's ok.......but you're not allowed to do it on purpose?
The damaged homes the county bought out were in flood zones and most already had a long history of flooding; they were at risk even during a hard rain storm where as most homes damaged during Harvey had never been flooded before. You just don't knock down houses that flooded once for the first time. There were ~200,000 houses that flooded...and many of them were $300k and above.
     
     
  #38  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 1:45 AM
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Do you have more information about this? The article didn't say anything about removing half the freeway loop
Here's a general view of the plan regarding the core.


https://www.bisnow.com/houston/news/...ear-eado-65467

Basically a small stretch of the least invasive highway circling downtown could possibly be removed, meanwhile everything around it gets a massive expansion fueling suburban growth for the next generation and removing thousands from their homes. How progressive.
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  #39  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 2:11 AM
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Originally Posted by sopas ej View Post
I'm actually surprised that Houston does not have commuter rail; even Albuquerque has commuter rail, and it's a much smaller city and metro area.
? I recall seeing rail / tramways in Houston even 15 years ago... unless you define it as inter-city? (Actually, I'm pretty sure now that that's what you meant)

Albuquerque from what I remember of my visit is surrounded by mountains, while Houston has viable terrain for suburbs pretty much 360 degrees around it. It's easier to have rail to satellite towns if they're concentrated. Houston's suburbs are the exact opposite of this, basically a ring.
     
     
  #40  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 3:00 AM
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
Someone's home is not a spelling error. You seem to be a little cavalier with seizing people's homes against their will for a little social engineering.



The damaged homes the county bought out were in flood zones and most already had a long history of flooding; they were at risk even during a hard rain storm where as most homes damaged during Harvey had never been flooded before. You just don't knock down houses that flooded once for the first time. There were ~200,000 houses that flooded...and many of them were $300k and above.
You and I simply have completely different perspectives.

Toronto had a 'Harvey'.........it was called 'Hazel'.....only a Tropical Storm by the time it made its way to Toronto in 1954........but dumped enough rain to kill double-digits and wiped out dozens of homes in river valley areas.

The response was to ban new housing in river valleys AND to tear down most that had already been built. Conservation Authorities were created to ensure this level of catastrophe never repeated itself.

For the most part, this plan was executed properly, one or two influential areas got to keep most of their homes, and instead got dams, dykes/berms or other protections.

But today Toronto is remarkably green for a big city, because it has thousands of acres of valley parkland, natural and manicured, where no homes or businesses are allowed.

It was simple, matter-of-fact response to one disaster........never-again.

The same way Australia banned handguns after a violent massacre (a disaster of a different kind)

Much of the world believes in solutions. The persistent objection in the U.S. that we must accommodate people who are wrong is bizarre. No! Change is needed.

Homes within the 25-year flood line must go.

Once you do that, prioritizing those homes that also represent a significant operational cost to maintain due to inefficient land use............

You then move on to penalizing homeowners and businesses who cost the government more money.

Take up more land, pay more tax; use more water, pay more, more power, pay more, have more garages (presumably due to greater use of roads), pay more.

Implement that, and inefficiently laid out homes become worth less and the government will buy them out at a discount, on a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis.
     
     
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