September 01, 2005
TxDOT rethinking I-45

This is welcome news.

The Texas Department of Transportation, faced with opposition from residents to a planned expansion of the North Freeway, is rethinking its proposal and looking at the Hardy Toll Road to help provide added capacity.

"It could be half and half. It could be one or the other. We will look at both alternatives," said TxDOT district engineer Gary Trietsch. "That will probably take us at least a year. We'll see where we are a year from now."

Welcome to the table, Gary. What took you guys so long?

The regional Transportation Policy Council, which screens proposals for federal road funding in the metro area, was scheduled to vote Friday on adding three new lanes to the freeway, which is also Interstate 45 North. But that vote was taken off the agenda.


When the item comes before the policy council again, probably in October, it will recommend new lanes on the freeway, the toll road or both, said Alan Clark, transportation planning manager for the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

Clark said possible ways to do that, besides widening one or both roads, include adding elevated lanes to the freeway as on Interstate 35 through Austin, or suspend lanes over frontage roads as on the North Central Expressway in Dallas.

I have my doubts about elevated options, but I'm willing to hear them out. There are tradeoffs that I'd be open to making, and at this point almost anything is preferable to a big land grab for extra lanes.

TxDOT has said it will also consider putting the freeway in a tunnel, as proposed by Woodland Heights resident and transportation engineer Gonzalo Camacho, but Clark said the idea raises questions. "Where would you connect it? Once you were in it, where could you get off?"

I believe Camacho has addressed those questions in his presentation. I'll drop him a note and ask him. In the meantime, why not have him over to H-GAC for a little chat? Let's get this dialogue started!

My favorite bit from the whole article:

TxDOT's estimate of the widening's cost, $600 million, was ridiculed by opponents. Clark said $1.5 billion is a more likely figure and could rise before the job is finished.

I give John Wilson of GHASP full marks for that. His presentation made it abundantly clear that anyone in TxDOT who believed in a $600 million price tag (and I should note that their original tally was $400 million) has been sucking too many exhaust fumes.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 01, 2005 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

It is important to remember that TxDOT has not agreed to fulfill any of the I-45 Coalition's requests. This may be a positive step. Or maybe a tactic.

Posted by: John D. Wilson on September 2, 2005 5:21 PM