June 10, 2005
Revisiting the I-45 tunnel
Also in the This Week section is an article on the proposal by engineer Gonzalo Camacho to redo I-45 from Greenspoint to downtown as a tunnel. He gave a presentation on this at the I-45 town hall sponsored by Rep. Jessica Farrar. You can see his presentation here, but be warned - it's an 8.2 MB PowerPoint file, so be sure you have the right software and a fast Net connection.
Anyway. The story itself is a nice overview of Camacho's idea. Maybe it all sounds pie-in-the-sky, but look at the presentation for yourself before you make any judgments. More importantly, remember that TxDOT is going to demand alternates to its proposals in order to even contemplate the possibility of doing something else. If you don't like their plan to widen I-45 and you don't think Camacho's idea has any merit, then you'd better come up with something else for them to consider.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 10, 2005 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Quote from the article
"Cost of the tunnel project would be about 25 percent higher than that of an at-grade project, Camacho estimates."
That statement is way off from reality. Tunnels are extremely expensive, which is why they are so rare. A tunnel is probably 3 to 4 times more expensive than an at-grade facility, and I expect TxDOT to shoot down the idea for cost reasons.
It will be killed with 2 words - "Big Dig". That Boston fiasco will be used, rightly or not, to horsewhip anyone trying to build a major interstate tunnel.
I agree with MaxConcrete: unless some new miracle tunnelling technology has come along, it is way, way more expensive than +25%, as Patrick well points out with the Big Dig note.
I think this might be a case where TXDoT needs to talk to Harris County. The Hardy runs parallel to 45, and could be set for congestion pricing/tolling so buses/carpools have a high speed option. Then remove the HOV on 45 and, voila, at least 2 new free lanes - very cheaply with no new right-of-way.
Yes Tory, ALOT of mobility problems could be solved if TXDoT could talk to Harris County, Houston could talk to the Feds, Harris County Toll Road Authority (or lack thereof) talk to MUDS, and all combinations of the above talk to each other. More examples of parallel, redundant rights-of-way administered by different governing bodies may be observed by looking at a road map of Harris County. Additional examples of our inter-governmental communication problem and/or competition may be observed by noting how rights-of-way administered by different governing agencies seem to have a problem connecting to or intersecting each other - further compounding mobility problems. And when they're all done beating their chests, John Q. Public will learn to travel redundant paths to justify all that concrete.
Given the flooding that happens at I-45 and West Mt. Houston and at Tidwell, I would be really leery of getting in a tunnel that long.....