Here’s the latest email from the I-45 Coalition:
I hope you had an opportunity to attend at least one of TxDOT’s public meeting (11/15 at Jeff Davis High School & 11/17 at Aldine High School). I understand that the Davis meeting had about 250 people attending and Aldine had less than 50 people. If you didn’t have a chance to attend, that’s OK – all of TxDOT’s information is available on their website at www.ih45Northandmore.com (links follow).
TxDOT’s handout from the meeting can be found here. There was an 8-minute slide show (with audio), or just the slides, about 1 MB. In addition, all the exhibits that were displayed at the meetings can be found here.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you submit your written comments regarding the project before December 5, 2011. You can email to [email protected] or go to [email protected]. If you want to mail your comments; send to Director of Project Development, TxDOT, P.O.Box 1386, Houston, TX 77251-1386 ~ it must have a postmark of 12/5/11 or sooner to be included in the official record.
Some of TxDOT’s stated goals were/are to:
- Get you involved
- Give you information about the project
- Get your comments on 2 documents – the Need and Purpose Statement & the Agency Coordination and Public Involvement Plan
- Request comments on the project
The Need & Purpose Statement (N & P) details the need for the project and what the project would accomplish if done. TxDOT wants to:
- Manage traffic congestion by adding capacity (more lanes)
- Improve mobility by increasing peak travel speeds by up to 10 mph between US-59 & Beltway 8 North
- Provide 2-way, all day service on managed lanes (toll & HOV lanes)
- Bring I-45 up to current design standards (wider lanes, additional shoulders, higher bridges / overpasses)
- Expand capacity for emergency evacuations
TxDOT says that to do this “may require acquisition of additional ROW in some areas” (page 1-8). From I-10 to 610 North, TxDOT states that additional Right-of-Way (ROW) will “likely be required” at all intersections of I-45 with existing streets. And from 610 North all the way to Beltway 8 North – ROW will “likely be required” along the entire roadway!
The Agency Coordination & Public Involvement Plan (ACPIP) details the different entities and timelines that are involved with the project. TxDOT states that “Acquisition of additional ROW would be required to construct the proposed improvements” (page 2).
In November 2005, TxDOT released their North-Hardy Corridor: Highway Alternatives Analysis. In this study, TxDOT recommended having 4 managed lanes (3 more lanes than existing currently) from I-10 to Beltway 8. TxDOT estimated the cost – in 2004 dollars – would be $2.113 Billion. According to TxDOT, after doing the project, in the year 2025, the peak speeds in the main traffic lanes would only be 3 mph faster than if we did not do the project at all – an increase from 32 mph to 35 mph [I-10 to 610] and from 27 mph to 30 mph [610 to Beltway 8] (page ES-13). In our opinion, this does not sound like much bang for the buck, especially when they are talking more than 2 Billion bucks (in 2004 dollars)!
Here are some items we want TxDOT to either comply with or agree not to do:
- No expansion beyond the existing right-of-way on I-45.
- Alternative means of transportation must be explored – (such as adding commuter rail on the existing rails in the Hardy Corridor).
- No negative impact to quality of life in adjoining neighborhoods.
- We want a tunnel to be considered for the 4 managed lanes.
- We want a tunnel to be considered for general traffic lanes.
- We do NOT want any new roadway built above ground level – no double decked freeways because of additional noise, pollution & visual blight.
- We do NOT want any roadway to negatively affect water drainage into or out of our neighborhoods at any time, including during construction.
- As a possible alternative – extend Hardy from 610 to downtown; widen Hardy; have TxDOT acquire Hardy and then remove all tolls. Another variation is to maintain some lanes on Hardy as HOV / toll lanes and the rest for general traffic mobility.
- In addition to the above item – coordinate with Metro and rail owners and extend light rail / commuter rail on existing rail tracks already on Hardy.
- Replace and/or supplement Pierce Elevated with a tunnel system.
- There is a conflict between the slide presentation and the Draft N & P and the ACPIP. The presentation states that TxDOT will evaluate tunnels as an alternative and neither the N & P nor the ACPIP says that will be done. In fact, neither document mentions a tunnel at all.
- The N & P states a goal of improving mobility by increasing peak hour travel speeds “by up to 10 mph” (page 1-9, 1.2). Under this goal, an increase of only 1 mph could be claimed as meeting the objective. We need better, more definitive goals other than increasing travel speeds by as little as 1 mph in return for spending billions of dollars!
It is VITAL that you send in your written comments prior to December 5th.
Please email to [email protected] or go to [email protected]. If you agree with any of the above statements, feel free to cut and paste if that helps you to respond. Please send us your ideas too or send us a copy of your email. We will consolidate & post as many great ideas as possible.
You CAN submit additional comments, even if you already gave TxDOT comments at the meeting. By submitting your comments, they become a permanent part of the project and TxDOT will research & investigate your ideas. TxDOT will report their findings at their next public meeting – probably to be held within the first six months of 2012. The I-45 Coalition will update & notify you of all upcoming meetings, if you are on our email list or our Facebook page.
If you would like some information about the viability of tunnels in Houston, there is an excellent website at http://www.i45parkway.com .
Please forward this email to any individuals or groups or organizations and ask them to get their comments into TxDOT before the December 5th deadline.
If you have ever traveled on I-45 – you have an interest in this project!!
Please stay involved – the future of your neighborhood and your City is at stake – it is up to you to let TxDOT know what you want or don’t want!
To me, a key aspect of this is getting some kind of commitment to view the Hardy Toll Road as already-existing extra capacity for I-45, and to take whatever steps are needed to ensure it is used to best advantage. Whatever TxDOT can do to help HCTRA get the Hardy extension into downtown finished will help. In the meantime, get your comments in while you still can.