June 15, 2005
More on the new Metro plan

There's more coverage today of the new Metro plan. I'm kind of amused by the calls, in the article and elsewhere for a do-over vote on the issue, if only because it would put John "Bill White is da man!" Culberson in an awkward position. You just can't vote on some things too often, I guess.

I'm sympathetic to the folks in Afton Oaks, who are worried about losing their trees and median on Richmond Ave. I feel reasonably confident that there's a way to avoid too much aesthetic damage. Westpark really is the best road to run this down, except for the inconvenient fact of it terminating at Kirby. I don't know what the answer is, but I'm sure there will be plenty of suggestions.

If I had one wish for this plan, or any plan, it would be to include a real option for north-south travel inside Loop 610. Look at any map of Houston, and you'll see that primarily due to the location of Memorial Park, there's only one road that goes all the way from the South Loop to the North Loop, and that's Shepherd/Greenbriar. Speaking as someone who lives in the Heights and works near the Astrodome, I have to do a lot of driving on Shepherd/Greenbriar and Kirby, and it's just hell, even without any godawful construction projects gumming things up. These roads are crowded, there's lots of stoplights to contend with, and there's no relief in sight because there's absolutely no room to do any widening. The only way to ease the congestion is going to be giving people non-car options. The Downtown/Galleria route is great for those going east-west - and make no mistake, the non-highway arteries there are clogged up, too, though at least there's more of them along with 59 - but we need more than that. I just hope we get it sometime soon.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 15, 2005 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

Stop talking and start building! I wantsta go shopping! :)

Posted by: Jim D on June 16, 2005 1:49 AM

The Westpark corridor for light rail extends all the way to Main St. While Westpark the road ends at Kirby, the old rail right-of-way goes all the way along the south edge of 59 to Main St. You can see it with Google's satellite maps here


They want to consider Richmond for the better real estate development options and better connectivity to Greenway and the Galleria. But I can't see how Richmond can lose that many lanes w/o gridlock. The Westpark option is better, with a short in-and-out spur up to Greenway, and a BRT connection to the Galleria.

Posted by: Tory Gattis on June 16, 2005 9:38 AM

Culberson now says he has not endorsed Mayor White's plan, and says he favors a vote. So, he either got rolled by the mayor's media machine or he's backtracking or there's another option I've missed. I don't really have an opinion one way or the other on it, as both scenarios are plausible to me.

Why do you say the Downtown/Galleria non-highway arteries are clogged up? I drive that stretch frequently now, and I don't find it clogged up, although the lights could certainly be synchronized better (again, the mayor's hype here doesn't match the reality). However, if lanes are stolen from Richmond (the only good four-five lane route into/out of downtown) for rail, that will probably have some clogging consequences for drivers (not unlike the Main Street consequences).

Clogged up is the Spur 527/Shepherd/Greenbriar to Main stretch right now because of the construction, but even that isn't all that bad most days, and construction is apparently way ahead of scheduled.

Posted by: kevin whited on June 16, 2005 10:00 AM