July 25, 2005
Sallee on I-45 expansion

The Chron's Rad Sallee devotes his weekly "Move It!" column to the proposed I-45 expansion and TxDOT's undercommunicative ways regarding it. He doesn't go into the attempted end run that was thwarted by GHASP, but he does give voice to some of the leading critics of the TxDOT plan, and as far as that goes, any publicity is good.

To answer Anne's question, I think there's two reasons why we haven't heard much about double-decking. One, from TxDOT's perspective, is the same reason the tunnel option has been mostly brushed aside: cost. The cheapest thing to do is to widen the existing freeway. They have no real incentive to consider anything else. From the perspective of the affected residents, a double-decked freeway sounds like it'd be extra noisy, extra dirty, and an eyesore to boot. All of the things that a tunnel isn't, which brings us back where we started.

I'm also not sure how exactly a second deck would work in this context - it seems to me that you'd still need a bigger footprint for the road just to put in the support columns, which puts us right back at the original objections. I guess I'd have to see a schematic diagram to know for sure. Personally, I'm a bit leery of it, but I could see how it might work, and I'd certainly prefer it to the condemn-and-widen default plan.

On a side note, this looks like as good a time as any to once again put out the CTC's call for volunteers to attend the Commissioners' Court meeting, which is tomorrow morning downtown. Click the More link for the details.

CTC is seeking neighborhood volunteers for the Harris Cty Commissioners' Court mtg this Tues July 26 at 10:00 am, downtown.

As you know, some of Harris County's 5-7 new priority toll road projects have had multiple public meetings, but others have had no meetings at all. While Harris County's Art Storey told us in June that it doesn't make sense to hold meetings for a project if you don't know when you're going to do it, neighborhood leaders want to know what the county does know, now.

We have 4-5 folks confirmed already. Your voice is needed if you live in a neighborhood near one of these projects:
* 290 Managed Lanes: Cottage Grove, Oak Forest
* Brazoria County toll road (SH 288): small cities of southeast Harris Cty
* Fort Bend Connector: Willowbend, Westbury, Precinct 287,
* Grand Parkway segment E: Katy, northwest Harris County.
Source (pp.17-18)

If you would like Harris County to host public meetings about one of these projects in your neighborhood, I hope you'll come tell them so. If you may join us, please RSVP to Peter Tyler at (713) 256-9205 or [email protected]

The Commissioners' Court meeting agenda is now online.

Thanks for your help,
Robin Holzer
m (713) 301-5716

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 25, 2005 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

Another concern about double-decking is the noise. Many residents feel that the noise from I-10 increased with the HOV flyover construction. Is this a result of reflected noise, since there isn't much new traffic on the flyover?

Rad didn't mention that simply rebuilding the existing freeway will result in a wider footprint, because current standards require shoulder widths that aren't present today. For those who are mathematically oriented, same=more.

Posted by: John Wilson on July 25, 2005 4:34 PM

I still don't see what all the fuss is about. Drive north along the northbound frontage road from Main Street and Loop 610, and you will see that the structures along the east side of the freeway are mostly lower-tier commercial properties. Acquiring 100 feet of right-of-way would have a negligible effect on any neighborhood.

Unfortunely, emotion is fueling this opposition, not logic. It is in Houston's best interests to modernize this freeway, which has a design that dates back to the late 1950s (some improvements were made in the 1980s).

I would urge OfftheKuff to take the drive along the northbound frontage road and see for himself that this will NOT be major impact to the neighborhood. TxDOT is not attempting an "end run", they are just doing what is best for Houston while having a minimal negative impact.

Posted by: MaxConcrete on July 25, 2005 11:05 PM

Well, Max, I live right off the North Main exit from I-45. I know this freeway well. Among other things, I know that TxDOT has no plans to modernize or widen the Pierce Elevated just south of I-10. This is a stretch of road I drive every day to work, and it's often backed up, frequently to the point of causing long tailbacks on the entrance ramp from I-10 (which is how I usually get to I-45 from my house). TxDOT has no plan for dealing with the higher volume of traffic that will enter the Pierce Elevated once I-45 is widened. I know because I specifically asked them about it at a public forum. TxDOT has also never explained why the eventual extension into downtown of the Hardy Toll Road won't provide enough capacity to handle I-45's excess.

I also know, because I have friends who live on the other side of North Main, that there is indeed residential property which butts right up to the I-45 service road. It's not high end, but it's still someone's home. Should it disappear in the name of making the commute from the Woodlands a bit shorter, then houses that are farther from I-45, houses and which are now higher end will lose value. The original plan for I-45, which we in the Woodland Heights learned about five or so years ago, involved turning Beauchamp Street into the new I-45 service road. TxDOT has backed away from that, but then there's also that crazy idea about turning Houston Avenue into the new I-45.

In short, we've gotten bupkus from TxDOT all along, and none of us feels any need to trust them. Maybe if you attended some of the public meetings, and talked to some of the residents who are in the line of fire, you'd understand where we're coming from. In the meantime, I'll reiterate something I've said before: My neighborhood is not an impediment to your mobility.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on July 25, 2005 11:23 PM

I have read the comments and I agree with the residents living in the immediate area. I think TXDot should look at the big picture and see these are individuals homes that will be affected. I live right next to the Quitman bridge and I-45, in the Allen Addition, this is right across from the Woodland Heights. There is a meeting being held at Davis HS at 2:00pm this Saturday 08/13/05 regarding this expansion.

Posted by: Rosa Vasquez on August 10, 2005 1:15 PM