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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 4:07 PM
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Houston’s $7 billion solution to gridlock is more highways

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A “Texas-sized” expansion of highways finds the sprawling city laying out a blueprint for more cars
By Patrick Sisson Aug 5, 2019, 8:29am PDT

Like many American cities, Houston is encircled by rings of highways—nine major radial freeways, three ring freeways, and a 180-mile fourth outer ring on the way.

But Houston isn’t just encircled by roads, it’s symbolically, and literally, being choked by cars. It’s consistently ranked as a top city for traffic congestion, ninth-worst for ozone pollution according to the American Lung Association, and a tragic nexus for deaths from car crashes. The annual death toll, according to the Houston Chronicle, is equivalent to “three fully-loaded 737s crashing each year at Houston’s airports, killing all aboard.”

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the solution is more roads, specifically, a multiyear, multibillion dollar project to widen and expand the city’s highway infrastructure in an attempt to ease persistent bottlenecks that clog downtown traffic.

This isn’t a small upgrade: in the name of accelerating commutes, the North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) will widen and rebuild nearly 25 miles of highways in the city’s downtown, expanding some to be as wide as the length of two football fields. In addition to years of construction, the “Texas-sized” expansion would displace four houses of worship, two schools, 168 homes, 1,067 multifamily units, and 331 businesses that account for just under 25,000 employees, impacting mostly people of color in low-income neighborhoods.

Why a “highway boondoggle” is business as usual

Transit and community activists have painted the project as a symbol of all that’s wrong with transportation planning, and a sign of how focusing on cars instead of more efficient, affordable ways to move residents across the Houston area, will cost the city in terms of air pollution, congestion, affordability, and even resiliency.

The Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, a nationwide nonprofit declared the project one of its annual “highway boondoggles,” projects that define needless and wasteful spending. This highway project will not only not solve the problems it claims to solve, the group claims. Additionally, since it doesn’t include right-of-way costs (paying property owners for the right to travel through or above their land), the $7 billion price tag is simply a best-case scenario.
https://www.curbed.com/2019/8/5/2075...45-north-txdot

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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 4:11 PM
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Good luck with that.
     
     
  #3  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 4:20 PM
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Awesome!
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 4:25 PM
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At least some spots are tunneled
     
     
  #5  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 4:29 PM
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Originally Posted by LA21st View Post
Good luck with that.
my first thought as well.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 4:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Obadno View Post
At least some spots are tunneled
Nope, read the annotations in the video. It would require a third party to come up with a development plan and to finance it. Purely "conceptual".
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 4:35 PM
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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
Nope, read the annotations in the video. It would require a third party to come up with a development plan and to finance it. Purely "conceptual".
oh....
     
     
  #8  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 4:36 PM
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Disgusting.
     
     
  #9  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 4:45 PM
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lol of course --- its no secret texas loves them some highways. especially anything they can build skyhigh flyovers for no reason.
     
     
  #10  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 5:10 PM
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The comments here are predicable as usual. The freeways highlighted in the video are some of the most gridlocked in the city and the infrastructure is old and decrepit and seeing as this city is reliant on cars, freeway construction is a reality.
     
     
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 5:46 PM
authentiCLE authentiCLE is offline
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
The comments here are predicable as usual. The freeways highlighted in the video are some of the most gridlocked in the city and the infrastructure is old and decrepit and seeing as this city is reliant on cars, freeway construction is a reality.
Perhaps the solution isn't to just build more lane miles? The city is reliant on cars because they don't provide an alternative.
     
     
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 6:00 PM
authentiCLE authentiCLE is offline
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edit: double post
     
     
  #13  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 6:18 PM
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Originally Posted by authentiCLE View Post
Perhaps the solution isn't to just build more lane miles? The city is reliant on cars because they don't provide an alternative.
Why are you assuming that’s the only solution? Are you informed about the revamped bus system that sought to controversially prioritize ridership over service?

Familiar with the METRO 2040 plans?
     
     
  #14  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 6:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JManc View Post
The comments here are predicable as usual. The freeways highlighted in the video are some of the most gridlocked in the city and the infrastructure is old and decrepit and seeing as this city is reliant on cars, freeway construction is a reality.
This. It’s simply unrealistic to do anything but rebuild highways. I think there’s a huge opportunity to increase park and ride but that doesn’t seem to gain much traction.

The Houston system serves just as many people or even more than our peer up the state in DFW who spent much more money on rail.

Last edited by TexasPlaya; Aug 6, 2019 at 6:34 PM.
     
     
  #15  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 6:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The North One View Post
Nope, read the annotations in the video. It would require a third party to come up with a development plan and to finance it. Purely "conceptual".
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.
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  #16  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 7:46 PM
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Ahh, Houston, don't ever change.

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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Awesome!
What, that highway widening doesn't reduce congestion? Maybe if the highway didn't have on-ramps, merge areas or interchanges.

That non-rush hour video was interesting, apparently all exits will have perpetual green signals at surface intersections.
     
     
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 8:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post

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 is such a bizzarre/absurd take and false comparison. Don't know where to start.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 8:16 PM
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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
This is such a bizzarre/absurd take and false comparison. Don't know where to start.
Why?
     
     
  #19  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 8:18 PM
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Originally Posted by authentiCLE View Post
Perhaps the solution isn't to just build more lane miles? The city is reliant on cars because they don't provide an alternative.
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.
     
     
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 8:24 PM
authentiCLE authentiCLE is offline
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Originally Posted by TexasPlaya View Post
Why are you assuming that’s the only solution? Are you informed about the revamped bus system that sought to controversially prioritize ridership over service?

Familiar with the METRO 2040 plans?
I'll happily admit I am not familiar with it. After a quick google search it seems like an aspirational plan for revamping the regional transit system? Good for you, Houston. I'll wait to see how much of it gets funded.
     
     
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