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I-45 Coalition touts tunnel at City Hall

In other transportation news from last week, the I-45 Coalition spoke before City Council last week to urge support for the I-45 Parkway concept. Here’s a KTRH report of their appearance:

It’s a whole new way of thinking about your ride on I-45. Imagine traveling several miles– underground in a tunnel– as you commute from North Houston to the downtown area.

The I-45 Coalition’s plan is a stark contrast with what the Texas Department of Transportation envisions for improving the freeway. And while you might think constructing such a long underground roadway might be prohibitively expensive, I-45 Coalition President Jim Weston doesn’t see it that way.

“The Freeway would cost $297 million a mile, the tunnel would be $317 million per mile, it’s a five percent difference in the end,” Weston said before the group took its plan to Houston’s City Council Tuesday.

And, Weston said, the plan could be completed in half the the time it would take TexDot to complete it’s tunnel-less improvements, while adding more lanes for express traffic, and cutting down on both environmental and noise pollution.

As for flooding, Weston said there’s no need for concern. “A tunnel can be easily engineered not to flood. The reason 45 floods is it’s an open pit where all the water goes in. A tunnel is not designed that way.”

The idea of a tunnel is bold and innovative, and it clearly gets support when people hear about it. I just can’t help but remain skeptical that it will ever be seriously considered by TxDOT. I do appreciate the effort, though, and I hope that the Coalition has a salutary effect on the final design regardless.

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2 Comments

  1. Charles Hixon says:

    A tunnel can be easily engineered not to flood.” So can Houston, but it isn’t.

  2. Greetings Charles. Pleasant surprise to read you post on the i-45 Coalition. I don’t think the tunnel idea is as “bold and innovative” since roadway tunnels are being constructed all over the world. It just makes lots of common sense. Mr. Gary Trietsch at Houston TxDOT has indicated that TxDOT has to consider all alternatives that make sense since it is required by the feds. But you might be right. It might not be easy to modify the TxDOT thinking although in a past meeting with Mr. Trietsch, CM A. Garcia and representatives from the Downtown Management district, Mr. Trietsch indicated that ‘if the tunnel design does not have major design flaws and costs are not more than 10 to 20% more’ then ‘TxDOT can do it but it will need the support from the Mayor.’ Regretfully if my life depended on it, it has been impossible to get the attention of Mayor White (who). The best outcome is the support from I-45 Coalition. The Coalition will outlast Mayor White and any other narrow minded, self serving elected representative – since the i-45 parkway/tunnel was proposed half of city council is new and in a couple years all of them will be a different batch.
    Last comment, why Houston and Houstonian’s must demand TxDOT to build the I-45 tunnel? The History Channel has a program called “Mega Disasters: New York City Hurricane.” I believe it is a matter of time when a hurricane devastates Houston in which time 250 thousand plus people will be grateful to have the ability to find shelter from a hurricane in the i-45 tunnels.
    By the way, you can find a link at http://www.i45parkway.com to a white paper that was published by the American Society of Civil Engineers Transportation Development Institute. Thanks for the blog, it helps educated the public and this is a MUST.