June 12, 2004
Regional transportation plan criticized

The road-oriented 2025 Regional Transportation Plan was criticized by a host of local activists on Thursday. This probably doesn't have much interest to folks outside Houston, but I have to comment on this:

Council members limited themselves to questions and did not criticize the plan, but several have expressed dismay about such items as the proposed conversion of segments of South Main, Kirby, Gessner and other thoroughfares into "smart streets."

These are envisioned as almost-freeways with computerized signals, grade-separated intersections and added lanes, enabling traffic to zip along.

Now, I drive on Kirby quite a bit. It's a potholed mess, and the traffic lights are badly coordinated, making a short drive an interminable ordeal. But what exactly does this "smart street" concept mean in reality? Does the term "grade-separated intersections" mean that overpasses will be built so that stoplights can be skipped if you're not turning? If so, does anyone else think that's going to be butt-ugly, noisy, and at least as bad smogwise as the current situation is?

And how are all of the businesses along Kirby going to be accomodated? There's no room to expand the road, and the problem with traffic "zipping along" is that it'll make getting in and out of the parking lots that line the Kirby business district a real hazard. Maybe I'm visualizing what this means incorrectly, and given what I am thinking of I hope that's so, but what else could they mean?

To me, the answer is to make it easier to get around Kirby without a car. I've already made one suggestion along these lines, and there's no reason the concept can't be expanded, especially when we get to building a new rail line along the Southwest Freeway, one that would connect the Greenway Plaza area to the downtown line. Can't happen soon enough, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 12, 2004 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack