July 23, 2006
Making noise about I-10 service roads

TxDOT's plan to connect the existing service roads along I-10 between downtown and the West Loop are generating complaints from the neighborhoods they'd run through.

TxDOT has plans to build the elevated frontage lanes as part of its $40 million effort to create a continuous feeder road system along I-10 between Washington Avenue and Taylor Street.

Linda Mercer, a resident of Cottage Grove, a community north of I-10 between TC Jester and Washington, said that if the frontage lanes are built 30 feet above grade, nothing will be able to be done to lessen the noise and pollution that will come with them.

"It would introduce an aesthetic to the neighborhood that we can't even imagine," said Mercer, who also is vice president of the White Oak Bayou Association. "There will be an industrial quality to the neighborhood. What you see along the frontage lanes in Cottage Grove now is largely residential because it's not too bad to live there. This would destroy that."

TxDOT project developer Jim Heacock said there are gaps in the frontage road system in three places along that stretch:

  • Eastbound between Taylor and Studemont;

  • Both east and westbound between Patterson and Heights Boulevard; and

  • The area where the Union Pacific tracks cross I-10 between Washington and TC Jester.

It's at that third gap where TxDOT wants to build 30-foot-high, two-lane frontage roads on both sides of the interstate, Heacock said.

Construction of the project is expected to commence in September 2007 and last about two years, he said.


"What we have now is something the neighborhood is comfortable living with," said Monica Savino, vice president of the Woodcrest Neighborhood Civic Association. "(The project) would double or triple the amount of noise we have now, and that's a disaster."

Tom Dornbusch, president of the WNCA, said that when the stretch of I-10 inside the loop was built, TxDOT took steps to lessen the freeway's negative effects on neighborhoods.

"In the 1960s the neighborhoods negotiated with TxDOT to get it below grade in exchange for all the houses that were lost," Dornbusch said. "What we want to see is the frontage lanes built below the (Union Pacific) railroad tracks."

Heacock said building the lanes below the tracks is unfeasible.

"They just won't fit under there," he said.

I'm trying to picture a road that goes over the railroad bridge. What I'm conjuring would not please me if I lived in that area, so I can certainly understand the neighborhoods' concerns. I guess I'm not really sure why there needs to be a service road there. On the westbound side, at least, where one can get past the discontinuity by driving through the residential area and crossing the railroad tracks (as I discovered one day when I exited TC Jester on my way to Washington to avoid a traffic jam), there's nothing that would be served by this road. Of course, as described here the idea is just to allow you to get from TC Jester to Washington in a direct fashion. I'm still not sure why, after all this time, that's now needed.

I can see the need for the other pieces. It would be very nice to be able to enter I-10 West directly from Heights or Yale, without having to go east towards Studemont and take the turnaround. And with the opening of the new Target at Taylor Street, a service road between Studemont and Taylor would come in handy. Maybe I'm just not as familiar with the western part of the TxDOT Service Road Completeness Plan as I am with these areas, but I don't see the same kind of value in filling that particular gap. Can anyone comment on this?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 23, 2006 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

The only public justification TxDOT gives for elevated service roads is to circumvent freeway flooding. However, they are building Detention Ponds on White Oak Bayou to abate this, negating the need to spend an additional $40 Million on this stretch of IH-10 between Washington Avenue and Patterson Street.
Will the new lanes alleviate I-10 traffic? No! These $40 Million in taxdollar, elevated service-roads will save TxDOT employees five minutes of rush-hour traffic-wait because they lead right to TxDOT's front door at 7721 Washington Avenue, 77024.
Local neighborhood advocates have formed a grassroots organization called StopTxDotNow.org to raise awareness and mount a protest against TxDot's bad process and bad planning. They encourage people to educate themselves about the issue (through the website and its linked sites) and to become involved in notifying our elected officials that TxDot is wasting taxpayer monies.

Posted by: Mary-Jane Buschlen on July 24, 2006 11:25 AM