Jim Weston of the I-45 Coalition sent the following feedback to TxDOT regarding their plans for remaking I-45 in and around downtown.
Through-out all Segments:
1.1 – All existing sound barrier walls must be replaced. Past agreements to install sound barrier walls, must be installed as part of this project.
1.2 – Sound Mitigation – There must be noise barrier walls for residential neighborhoods that are adjacent to the freeway, with landscape/beautification included. Consider a design that is appropriate for some of the oldest districts of Houston. Consider both vertical and horizontal caps and a slight inward angle towards the freeway instead of vertical walls to further remove sound from entering neighborhoods.
1.3 – Utilize ‘quiet pavement’ techniques and materials to lower the sound decibel levels generated from the roadways.
Segment 1 (610 to Beltway 8)
1.1 Proposed plan has additional R.O.W. taken from the east side of I-45 south of Crosstimbers. This east side is populated by well-developed and thriving businesses, while the west side has many vacant or closed businesses. It is more desirable to utilize the additional R.O.W. from the WEST side in this section, instead of the east. Conflicts with floodway can be mitigated by retention / detention basins, channel adjustments and by building above grade.
1.2 There need to be curb cut entrances from frontage roads so customers can gain access to businesses.
Segment 2 (I-10 to 610)
2.1 – All bridges removed and rebuilt (Cottage St., N.Main, North St.) should be rebuilt as architectural-styled bridges that have physically (concrete barrier, for example) separated, wide pathways for pedestrians and cyclists. They should have pedestrian friendly lighting. This section of I-45 passes thru some of the oldest districts of Houston and the bridges should reflect that character. They should give our neighborhood a visual identity (similar in concept to the “red-ball” bridges over US-59 at Mandell, Dunlavy, Woodhead, Hazard). Perhaps an artist design competition?
2.2 – Houston Ave. must continue to be a two-way street. Otherwise, it will force additional traffic onto neighborhood streets. Keep Houston Ave two lanes southbound, two lanes northbound and then a designated barrier-separated entrance ramp (at grade level) to I-45 south. This separated entrance ramp can be merged with additional vehicles from Houston Ave north bound (similar to current). This layout completely eliminates the dangerous cross-traffic intersection that is currently in place.
Segment 3 (Downtown) West
3.1 – I strongly support the Pierce SkyPark concept and request that TxDOT incorporate this concept at the Pierce Elevated. In particular, I would like to be able to use existing portions of the Pierce Elevated infrastructure for a hike-and-bike connectors, green spaces and parks. This will also provide a reduction in demolition costs to the project for TxDOT.
3.2 – I want connectivity from I-45 to and from Memorial Drive. Memorial Drive is an important East-West connector and needs to have connectivity with I-45. Without Memorial connectors, west side inner-loop residents will be adding to congestion on I-10, 610 and or US-59 while accessing I-45 North or South.
There’s a lot more, so go read the whole thing. The deadline for submitting feedback to TxDOT on this project is tomorrow, May 31. This deadline has already been extended once thanks to a request from Rep. Jessica Farrar, so don’t blow it. Go here to submit your feedback. TxDOT can’t know what you do or don’t want if you don’t tell them. It would also be nice to know what the Mayoral candidates think about this, wouldn’t it? I wonder if any of them submitted feedback to TxDOT about this. That’s a question that may show up in a future interview.